Cycle (C) Holy Family

1 Sam, 1:11, 20-22. 24-28; 1 Jan 3:1-2, 21-24; Lk 2:41-52

E. V. Lucas wrote a very lovely kind of parable. “A mother lost her soldier son. The news came to her in dispatches from the war. He had fallen fighting nobly at the head of his regiment. She was inconsolable. “O that I might see him again,” she prayed, “If only for five minutes – but to see him.” An angel answered her prayer. “For five minutes,” said the angel, “You will see him.” “Yes,” said the angel, “but do think a little. He was a grown man. There are thirty years to choose from. How would you like to see him?” And the mother paused and wondered. “Would you see him,” said the angel, ‘as a soldier dying heroically at his post? Would you see him again as on that day at school when he stepped to the platform to receive the highest honour a boy could have?” The mother’s eyes lit up. “Would you see him,” said the angel, “as a babe?” And slowly the mother said, “No, I would have him for five minutes as he was one day when he ran in from the garden to ask my forgiveness for being naughty. He was so small and so unhappy, and the tears were making streaks down his face through the garden dust. And he flew into my arms, with such force that he hurt me.” The one thing that the mother wished above all to recapture was the moment when her son needed her. There is nothing more moving in life than to hear someone say, “I need you; I cannot do without you.”

Family is the place where everyone gets this comfort. Wherever we travel; whatever we do we will return to the family for this comfort. Everyone finds his strength in his family. Family is one of the greatest gifts and blessing from the Lord. Without family you cannot feel love, care , satisfaction and happiness. They are the most treasured blessing that no one can take away from us. Family is home, they are the ones who gives you unconditional love. They are the people who comfort you at the time of difficulties in life. They are the ones whom you can count on in times of problems.

Today's First Reading from the First Book of Samuel echoed the greatest desire of most families, especially that of the women, to bear a child. Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, was without child. She fervently prayed to the Lord, asking His blessing, promising in return to set before the Lord her child to be. 

The psalmist proclaimed: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5)

Children are the treasures of the family. And it is the responsibility of parents to spend time with them. A little boy greets his father as he returns from work with a question: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?” The father is surprised and says: “Look, son, not even your mother knows. Don’t bother me now, I’m tired.” “But Daddy, just tell me please! How much do you make an hour?” the boy insists. The father finally gives up and replies: “Twenty dollars.” “Okay, Daddy,” the boy continues, “Could you loan me ten dollars?” The father yells at him: “So that was the reason you asked how much I earn, right? Now, go to sleep and don’t bother me anymore!” At night the father thinks over what he said and starts feeling guilty. Maybe his son needed to buy something. Finally, he goes to his son's room. “Are you asleep, son?” asks the father. “No, Daddy. Why?” replies the boy. “Here's the money you asked for earlier,” the father said. “Thanks, Daddy!” replies the boy and receives the money. The he reaches under his pillow and brings out some more money. “Now I have enough! Now I have twenty dollars!” says the boy to his father, “Daddy, could you sell me one hour of your time?” 

Now the pressures of our job; the insecurity we have at the work place; the demands of the society; personal problems; illness and a lot of other things keep us always busy, and mostly away from the children. Children need their parents to be with them, to play with them, to tell them stories and to comfort them when they are troubled.

It is always a busy day for any woman who is the mother of ten children. One day a little boy was constantly on his mother’s heels no matter where she went. Whenever she stopped to do something and turned back, she would trip over him. Several times, she suggested fun activities to keep him occupied, but he innocently smiled and said, “Oh, that’s all right, Mommy, I’d rather be in here with you.” Then, he happily went wherever his mother went. After tripping on him for the fifth time, she lost her temper and shouted at him. She said, “Why don’t you go out and play like other boys? Why do you follow me like this?” He looked up at his mother and said, “Well, Mommy, in the school my teacher told me to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. But I can’t see him, so I’m walking in yours.”

We should remember that all the families from the very beginning of the inception of this institution had problems. Cain murdered Abel out of jealousy and Jacob acquired Esau's birthright. Threats to the family are not a thing of the past. There are many threats to family life in the 21st century. They include individualism, which isolates couples from each other; attempts to redefine marriage and family, which add to the confusion prevalent in society, excessive concern for material things, which obscures the value of spiritual gifts; poor moral examples in the movies and on television, which promote false notions.

Another problem is that the parents fail to understand their children. In today’s gospel passage also it is said that Mary and Joseph did not understand the words and actions of Jesus.

“After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, 'Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.' He said to them, 'Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?' But they did not understand what he said to them.”

A great threat we encounter in our families is “loneliness.” Often there is no time to spend with the elderly. Parents and grandparents are left alone.

In an audience Pope Paul VI told how one day, when he was Archbishop of Milan, he went out on parish visitation. During the course of the visitation, he found an old woman living alone. ‘How are you?’ he asked her. ‘Not bad,’ she answered. ‘I have enough food, and I’m not suffering from the cold.’ ‘You must be reasonably happy then?’ he said. ‘No, I’m not’, she said as she started to cry. ‘You see, my son and daughter-in-law never come to see me. I’m dying of loneliness.’ Afterwards he was haunted by the phrase ‘I’m dying of loneliness’. And the Pope concluded: ‘Food and warmth are not enough in themselves. People need something more. They need our presence, our time, our love. They need to be touched, to be reassured that they are not forgotten.

How do families deal with these modern issues? It starts with adopting the motto, “In God We Trust.” Trusting in God is the key to renewal of family life. The feast of Holy family reminds us that.