The Holy Family
“When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned … to their own town of Nazareth.” Mary and Joseph were faithful Jews who followed the norms of their religion. Today’s Gospel describes the event we call “The Presentation.” Jesus’ parents, like every Jewish family, presented their infant son to the Lord in a formal ceremony at the temple in Jerusalem. Having done what their religious rites required (and having heard the prophetic words of Simeon and Anna), Mary and Joseph returned home. It was back in their native region of Galilee, amidst the daily routine of domestic life, that Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom.”
As Christians, we too consecrate our children to the Lord when we have them baptized in the Church. Seeing our children receive this sacrament of initiation is always a moment of great joy and hope as we anticipate the life that lies ahead for them, both on earth and in eternity. But the baptism of a baby is only the beginning of this journey towards heaven. In truth, the little daily details, the simple living of family life in our own home paves the way for our children to reach their eternal home.
And so it was with the Holy Family. Jesus’ childhood, his formation and development took place not primarily amidst the public drama of the temple, but in the quiet privacy of his home. How important this home was, where his parents raised him in their faith and helped him live in such a way that “the favor of God was upon him.” May we too, in our homes and our families, remember that although our mission may be lived out in very small moments, taken together they have an eternal significance.