29.12.2019 — Interior Journey of the Holy Family

Holy Family of Jesus, Sunday – 29thDecember 2019 — Gospel: Matthew 2,13-15.19-23

Interior Journey of the Holy Family

God being born as a child, is an expression of God, who wants to be born into a human family, with a mother and father like us. Today’s liturgy invites us to celebrate the feast of the Holy Family that has moved over to Nazareth from Bethlehem via Egypt. Indeed it was a family in transition facing troubles and dangers, but Jesus, Mary and Joseph remained physically united. Into this family, Jesus brought holiness to his parents. This “holiness” has much to do with trusting dreams and graces for their togetherness and directions in life.

Matthew follows a clear pattern to tell us this story. He uses three dreams, three ‘obediences’ and three geographic locations to describe how prophecies about the Messiah are fulfilled in Jesus. The evangelist depicts Joseph and Mary being dealt directly by God through angelic visions. In the first dream, Joseph was directed to take the pregnant women, Mary as his wife. Today’s passage presents one more inconvenience, two more dreams that leads three of them to head off trustingly and willingly to an unknown place “God-knows where”. So Joseph takes Mary and Jesus in haste to Egypt and then takes them both to Nazareth where Jesus will grow in maturity. Joseph and Mary needed to go with the flow of God’s ways, because Bethlehem has become more dangerous for their child.

In living out their lives in a family, Joseph and Mary were converted in many ways mainly because Jesus entered their lives. Joseph was converted by Mary’s entering his life and likewise was Mary converted through being related to Joseph. Joseph met his insufficiency as a provident father, which makes of an interior journey of becoming a loving husband and an earthly father. Mary met the mystery of her motherhood ponderingly, which makes of an interior journey to her divine motherhood. So they turned towards each other, then towards the crib, then towards Egypt and finally towards Nazareth. Grace was holding this functional family all through their struggles and in their conversions. Unlike the first family of Genesis, who were banished, this little family is sent on a journey of faith, hope and love. They do return to Nazareth in time, from Egypt to fulfill the Messianic prophecies within the Hebrew Scriptures. We see in this return from exile a hint of the coming restoration of God’s holy family, i.e., God’s kingdom, being built up in and through Christ.