Sir 3:2-6; Col 3:12-21; Luke 2:41-52.

Turning Over Stones

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas are underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots.

My mind is very mushy right now on account of our CYC Lock-In here at the parish. A fun time was had by 60 of our kids; but with this fun comes a span of 30 sleepless hours -- and I am not getting any younger.

Anyway, here, in skeleton form, is what is simmering in my noodle this week.

There is a bit of irony to be played with (although, one should never play with a hot irony) in terms of the Gospel that is chosen for Year C for Holy Family Sunday. It does not exactly paint a seamless, cohesive picture of the Holy Family. Jesus is accidentally left behind in Jerusalem and when he is finally found Jesus retorts to his admonishing -- Did you not know that l must be in the house of my Father? This response from Jesus does not exactly make for a heartwarming text for his next Fathers day card to Joseph. Can you feel the love? Have you lit a fire in the fireplace and curled up in a comforter with this text in hand feeling all warm inside about the Holy Family? Certainly there was love, but it is a peculiar reading to present for this weekend.

On the other hand, the Sirach reading is quite beautiful and moving.

So, how can these texts preach?

Because the formation of the Holy Family is so supernatural -- that is above and beyond nature -- with an immaculately conceived mother, a virgin birth, a Divine father, and an earthly stepdad, we should not pretend that the Holy Family can be immediately likened to the average parish in the family. I think that it is perfectly acceptable to go after a different angle than a simple pep talk about how we should model our families after the Holy Family.

I am thinking of preaching from the perspective of Joseph, or from Fathers in general. Sirach reminds us of the responsibilities that sons have to fathers. I have no reason to believe that Jesus did not fulfill these responsibilities with great care. On the other hand, Joseph must have felt the need -- and perhaps wrestled -- with the concept of letting Jesus go; that is, giving Jesus the freedom to fully realize his identity and prepare to travel on a path that would forever change the world.

I imagine fatherhood and motherhood is like that: Unconditional love mixed with freedom and trust -- unconditional love of a child -- freedom to allow growth -- and trust in God to guide, protect and bring a child to spiritual maturity.

Every son wrestles with Identity issues while simultaneously embracing responsibilities toward family. Every Father wrestles with freedom issues while simultaneously cooperating with God -- trusting that his child is being looked after. It is a delicate balance; and one that Joseph must have learned together with Jesus.

We pray for all families this weekend that this balance be found to maximize spiritual growth and trust in God.

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