They know they are loved

Michael A Kelly CSsR

Abraham and Sarah, an elderly couple, who trust in God are rewarded with the unexpected gift of a son in Isaac. Jesus is also an unexpected gift to a young woman Mary and Joseph, her spouse.

Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son to show obedience to God, but Isaac is spared, and Abraham and Sarah become the parents of nations. Forty days after the birth of their child, Joseph and Mary travel to Jerusalem to carry out the requirements of the Law which asks that the mother be purified, and the child be dedicated to God. They encounter two wise people who affirm that their son is a blessing from God who will play a major role in the redemption of the people.

Current family experience is distant from these two historical families, but they also cope with the unexpected, in the birth, the raising of children and their journey through life. Contemporary families have many configurations, but all follow the developmental cycle of dependence, independence to inter-dependence and perhaps ultimately dependence in old age. It is a journey of many joys, some disappointments, and a variety of challenges. We all have hopes for our children and these will be fulfilled in ways that exceed or fall short of our expectations.

After the purification and presentation, the Holy Family travelled to Nazareth and we hear that Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.” At the age of twelve he accompanied his parents on their annual pilgrimage to the Temple for the feast of Passover. On the day of their return, Jesus “lingered” in the Temple, but Mary and Joseph thought that he was among their group.

After a day of travel, they realised Jesus was missing, so they returned to Jerusalem, and found him in the Temple in discussion with the elders. Given his age, they were amazed at his learning. When admonished by Mary, Jesus replied: “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 

Jesus grows in maturity and finds his identity in carrying our God’s will. We do not know what Mary and Joseph expected from their son, but his public ministry, preaching, healing, death and resurrection must have been unexpected.

We do not know what direction our children will take but the greatest gift we can give them is to let them know that they are loved prior to achievement rather than because of their achievements. Secure in the knowledge of being loved, young people are free to become the people they are called to be and letting them go will enable them to return home no longer as children but as adults.

Michael A Kelly CSsR

© Majellan Media 2020