In this article we will reflect about the Holy Family – not just any family, but the Holy Family, which is made up of our Lord Jesus, Mother Mary and St. Joseph.
The Holy Family is the best role model for our families. Each and every family in this world should reflect or follow the Holy Family.
So, here we are going to see some of those points which may be helpful for you in your family – to deal with the relationships in the family.
In the passage Luke 2:41, it is mentioned that every year Mother Mary and St. Joseph used to go to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. Remember we are speaking about the Holy Family.
It is the Holy Family because the Almighty God is their child. When their child is the Almighty God, Mother Mary and St. Joseph should enjoy that and continue their life. But, they were obedient to the rituals of their religion. They were obedient to the commands of the Bible in the Old Testament.
As per the law every Jew was supposed to visit the Jerusalem temple at least three times in a year; especially, for the festival of Pentecost, the festival of Tabernacle and the festival of Passover. These were the three important feasts of the Jewish people.
During those days, they didn’t have many temples. They had only one temple and that was the Jerusalem temple. Israel is a big country and people from all over Israel used to go to Jerusalem for these three occasions every year.
In olden times on festival days, the Rabbis and teachers used to come and preach in the temple. They used to ask questions to the people.
In those times there were no Bibles available. To understand the Bible people used to go to these festivals, so that they could hear and understand the Bible.
St. Joseph and Mother Mary were very regular with their visits. Every year they used to go to Jerusalem temple. So, they didn’t consider the presence of Jesus (the Almighty God) as an excuse to avoid their spiritual practices.
Sometimes we wait for a chance to excuse ourselves from going for mass. Forget about daily mass, we search for excuses even for Sunday mass.
But here Mother Mary and St. Joseph had an excuse. They could have easily said that Almighty God Jesus is with us, so we have no need to visit any temple. But they never did that.
I remember some time back one man came and said “why should I go to church? Jesus is everywhere. Jesus is in my room; in my home. Then why should I go to the Church?” There are people who say this. But remember, there is an answer for you in the Bible.
Joseph and Mary had Jesus the Almighty God with them, in their home, but still they went to the temple. St Jude in his Gospel has stressed that ‘as usual’ they went there. Even Jesus went to the temple. It shows their obedience to the Jewish commands.
So, going to the Church is a must for every family. We have no excuse, especially, on obligation days that we need to go to the Church.
Every family has to remember this – every family has got a responsibility to follow the rules and regulations of your religion and your faith. Your biblical faith, your Christian religion and your Christian practices.
Every family has to follow it whether you like it or not. Since you are a Christian, you have to follow it because even Holy Family followed it. They could have taken it easily but they did not make any excuses.
They went on celebrating all the rituals of their religion. In the same way every Christian family has to follow the rituals of their religion, because your master and the Holy Family have showed a beautiful example for all of us to follow.
It is specially mentioned that every year they used to go to the Jerusalem temple. It is not once they happened to go to the Jerusalem temple, but every year. Jesus was so familiar with the Jerusalem temple.
Jesus was around 12 years old at the time, when he stayed back and got lost in Jerusalem. When he was 12 years old something happened that had not happened in all those last 12 years they went to Jerusalem temple.
In the Bible passage of Luke chapter 2:41, the ‘12 years old’ is mentioned. There is some significance to the ‘12 years’.
From the Old Testament 1Samuel we know that Samuel was small when he was given to the temple. According to the Mishnah, the Jewish commentary of the Torah, Samuel was 12 years old when he was surrendered to the Lord. In 1Samuel 2:26, it is written “Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favour with the Lord and with the people”.
Jesus was also 12 years old when he was found in the temple. The same words are used for Jesus. In Luke chapter 2:52 we read like this – Jesus increased in wisdom in years, and in divine and human favour.
Let’s go back to the gospel of Luke chapter 2:43 – when the festival was ended, they started to return. The boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem but his parents did not know it.
Both Mother Mary and St. Joseph assumed that Jesus is with the caravan and it was only after the day’s journey they realised that Jesus was not to be seen in the caravan. In the olden days when they went for the festival, normally they used to go like a caravan.
(‘Caravan’ or ‘Carabin” is taken from the Greek word ‘Synodia’, which means escort. A group of people going together, moving together or working together is called a caravan.)
So people used to go in caravans because there were so many robbers and bandits who used to come suddenly and attack them. They used to steal money and they would even snatch away the children from them.
Therefore, they used to go in groups. When they journey together women will walk together and the men will walk together. The men would all have similar situations, similar topics to discuss.
So also, the women have similar topics to discuss and talk and chat. Mother Mary was with other women and Joseph was with other men and children normally used to be with other children.
In today’s world the families are very isolated and secluded, but, in those days, everyone was like a joint family. The whole village used to be like a family. Everyone was related and connected. All were cousins or brothers and so somehow everyone was related.
Therefore, everyone had a responsibility to take care of every child. So, parents would not take care of only their children but everyone used to take care of everyone’s children. Therefore no one was worried about their children. They knew someone would take care.
That’s how Mother Mary and St. Joseph did not know that Jesus was missing. After a day’s journey they realised that Jesus was missing. In fact, Jesus purposely and knowingly stayed back in the temple.
Normally when parents suddenly lose their children, they get furious. They get angry with each other and start blaming each other. And the blame game starts.
If everything goes well it is the claim game. If the child is good, each of the parents will say, “oh, it’s my child”. The biggest problem in many families is the blame game and claim game. It will never help to solve any problem, but instead, fuel the problem.
If something goes wrong suddenly, the blame game starts. They feel something wrong happened due to other partners’ mistake and if something good happens, it is because of them. It is very common in every family.
But St. Joseph and Mother Mary did not get furious or angry with each other. They calmly started looking for Jesus among their relatives and friends without blaming each other. This is a very good lesson that we should learn from the Holy Family.
Remember, Mother Mary and St. Joseph were in a crucial moment. They were given a gift of child- the almighty God. But they could not protect this child. They could not keep this child and they were both responsible for this. But they did not start any blame game or claim game, but they just started searching for the missing Jesus.
Coming back to the Gospel we read, that when they failed to find Jesus, they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere. Three days later they found him in the temple sitting among the doctors listening to them and asking them questions and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies.
When Mother Mary and St. Joseph saw Jesus, his mother said to him “my child why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I were. We have been looking for you everywhere”. “Why were you looking for me?” He replied. “Did you not know that I must be busy with my father’s affairs?”
But they did not understand what he meant. Jesus then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature and in favour with God.
In our life, there will be a time when we miss Jesus in our family life. The husband is busy with work, the wife busy with work – day duty, night duty. The children busy with school.
All the time you are busy with work, or school, or watching television. So, you have no time for prayer and connecting to Jesus. Slowly, you will miss Jesus.
Many people get into relationships and friendships because you feel something is missing. You feel some emptiness in your heart.
You will go for parties, picnics and enjoyments. Some will go towards addictions to alcohol and drugs to fill the emptiness. But the emptiness only increases.
I have seen so many people in my life who have money, power, position, very good jobs, good salaries. But, since they do not have Jesus in their life, the emptiness increases.
I know about one doctor. He always wanted to become a doctor. He studied very hard even without going to the Church or anywhere. He was only focusing on his studies. He was never interested in any retreats or any religious activities.
At the end he became a doctor. He got married to a doctor and he also started a clinic of his own. Years later he was addicted to drinks and drugs. He started feeling empty. Even after his aim was fulfilled, he was feeling empty.
Only one person can fill our heart and that is Jesus. We read in John 15:5 ” I am the vine, you are the branches, those who abide in me and I in them, bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing”.
Many people search happiness, fullness, completeness and perfection in their friendships, connections, wrong relationships and sometimes in drugs and drinks. But they go into more emptiness.
The way Mother Mary and St. Joseph found missing Jesus in the temple, find Jesus in the Church, when you feel emptiness inside of you. You will find fullness only in the Church. Do not find your happiness in drugs, drinks, smoking, movies and wrong relationships. Happiness and perfection can be given only by Jesus.
Coming back to the Gospel – When they found him, Mother Mary told Jesus that your father and I were searching for you in great anxiety. Mother Mary said ‘your father’. In fact Mother Mary knows that Joseph is not the actual father, but only a foster father of Jesus. But Mother Mary always gave that respect to Joseph. Mother Mary always taught Jesus to respect Joseph as his father.
Mother Mary always respected Joseph and even Jesus was always submissive to his parents, though he was almighty God himself. He respected and was obedient to his earthly parents. This is a very important point for every family.
It is the duty of the husband to make sure that your children respect your wife, i.e., their mother. It is also the duty of every wife to make sure that your children respect your husband, i.e., their father.
Many times, some wives complain and blame their husbands in front of their children. In front of the children, they say he is good for nothing. He doesn’t do anything. From morning till evening he wastes his time in watching movies, sleeping and eating.
This is how many wives treat their husbands in front of their children. The children also start saying that their father is good for nothing. You are a useless person. In the same way it also happens vice versa.
Such families will never be united. Such families will never grow because the husband doesn’t respect the wife and the wife doesn’t respect the husband. Therefore, children never respect their parents.
Jesus was so obedient to his parents. Mother Mary always showed respect to Joseph. Mother Mary knew that she is full of holiness without original sin, but Joseph is born with original sin. In every way Mother Mary is higher than Joseph. But she gave that importance to Joseph.
Also, remember after the annunciation the angel never appeared in front of Mother Mary. The Angel appeared only to Joseph in a dream to take the mother and child. Angel used to give instructions only to Joseph and not Mother Mary. Because according to the Bible the head of the family is the husband.
All the wives should be submissive to their husbands. Being Submissive does not mean to be a slave. In Colossians 3:13 we read that we have to respect each other and we have to love each other. We further read in Colossians 3:18 “wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
One day when they were all sleeping, the angel came to Joseph and told him to get up and take the mother and child to Egypt. When Joseph got the instructions from the angel he woke Mother Mary at midnight. He told her take the child we need to travel now, but she never back answered him.
Mother Mary could have said “keep quiet and go and sleep. Don’t disturb me because if you want to go, we’ll go next day morning. Don’t disturb me in the midnight. You listen to me because I have more connection with God than you. Because I am full of holiness you are not. I am without original sin and you are with original sin, so you just listen to me. I will dictate terms to you.” Mother Mary could have said this but Mother Mary without even asking any question she was so submissive and obedient to her husband that she did what he told her to do.
For husbands, Joseph is a good role model. He was quiet all throughout in the Bible. Nowhere in the Bible do we find a single word spoken by Joseph. He never spoke. It is better for husbands to be quiet, that is the safest thing.
Wives should be submissive to the husbands and the husbands are supposed to love their wives. Never treat them harshly and don’t treat them as a slave.
Bible says that the husband is the head of the family that being a head of the family is a vocation. It is not an authority, it is a vocation. Wives should be submissive to the husband doesn’t mean you are a slave; you are losing anything. No, it is a vocation.
For example, In the Gospel of Luke 2:51, we read “Jesus went down with them and came to Nazareth and he was obedient to them”. Here we see that Jesus is much higher than Joseph and Mary, but still he emptied himself and was obedient to his father.
This is the obedience that the wives are supposed to have towards the husbands. Submissive is the same word which is used in Colossians 2:51. Even as per Gospel of Luke 2:51 we read – He came to Nazareth and was obedient to Joseph and Mary.
Jesus was more brilliant than Joseph and Mary. He knew the whole world more than Joseph and Mary. He created the whole universe. Jesus knew everything but still he was obedient to them. So, this is a vocation. This is a ministry that we are all called to do.
I can see so many families fighting with each other. They say husband and wife are equals. Nobody should be submissive to anyone. Such families will never find happiness and joy because each one wants to dictate terms and no one is ready to be obedient to each other.
We should try and make our own families be a Holy Family. Keep Holy Family as your role model and follow the footsteps of the Holy Family.
Husband love your wife. Sacrifice your life for your wife. Every husband has got a duty to sacrifice his life for his wife.
Wife, be submissive and obedient to your husband. It is each one’s duty towards each other. By this Jesus stays in our families and when Jesus stays in our families, peace and love remains in our families.
Just like the church is obedient to Jesus who is the head of the church and Jesus is obedient to the Father, be obedient to each other. There will be peace in our families.
We have to understand that this is the Biblical family setup. That is why when we say husband is the head and the wife has to be submissive, we are not speaking in terms of master and slave terminology. Many people have a misunderstanding and think wrongly.
That is not what the Bible says. The Bible speaks in comparison with the connection between Jesus and the church. Jesus is the bridegroom and the church is the bride.
So, husband and wife should behave in the same way that Jesus and the church is behaving. This is the teaching of the Catholic Church.