Obedience to THE FATHER

“He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.” Lk 2:51

Family life isn’t simple. It can be messy. Husbands sometimes sin against their wives. Wives sometimes sin against their husbands. Children sometimes sin against their parents and parents sometimes sin against their children. The family is supposed to be where we learn how to love and live virtuously; however, because we are all sinners, there may also be family sins and vices that we acquire.

This weekend the Church places before us the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. We are asked to ponder the mystery of their life together in order that we may be more like them. Interestingly, St. Luke tells us a story from the childhood of Jesus showing us that things didn’t always go smoothly in the Holy Family. He isn’t telling us that Jesus or Mary sinned, we know they were both sinless, but he is telling us that Mary and Joseph didn’t always understand God’s plan. Mary and Joseph, like us, had to live by faith and discern God’s plan for them.

One of the biggest challenges for families is to keep all of the different aspects of life in the correct order. Work, sports, recreation, school, church, friends, etc. are all vying for time, and it’s easy for some things to take more time than they should. One of the lessons that we learn from this Gospel is that Jesus is very clear about what comes first. He is defined by His relationship to the Father. He IS the Son of the Father. Everything else flows from that fundamental truth. By our baptism we are made sons and daughters of God, and that is supposed to be the fundamental relationship that defines us. It is the truth that must be placed first and everything else flows from it.

One of the traditional ways that the Church uses to help us learn how to order our lives correctly is the rosary. When we pray the rosary it isn’t supposed to be just rhyming off Hail Marys and Our Fathers. The prayers are merely the frame for our meditation. Each of the mysteries is meant to be an avenue through which we earn how to relate to God. There are three passages in Luke’s Gospel in which he tells us that Mary “pondered all these things in her heart.” When we pray the rosary well we are, like Mary and with Mary, pondering the mysteries of God in our heart.

For example, when praying the fifth Joyful mystery, the finding of the Child Jesus in the temple, you can ponder the feelings of Mary and Joseph as they searched for Jesus, not knowing where he was. Ponder the joy they felt upon finding him. Ponder the amazement of the elders as they conversed with this incredible 12 year old. You can also relate it to your own life: “Mary, I don’t know how to get my own children to see what is most important. Please pray that they will find Jesus in the temple.”

Keep pondering the ways of the Lord in your heart, and He will show you how to find Him.

Scott Murray