My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The insight of that woman resonates strongly in me today as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, the Feast which always falls in the Octave of Christmas. In this way the Holy Church contemplating the mystery of God made man has discerned how inextricably marriage and family life are linked to the Incarnation. Beginning with the event of the Annunciation when Jesus ‘was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit’ as we profess it in the Creed and ‘born of the Virgin Mary’ what we are still celebrating this Christmastide, it is always in the context of a loving relationship between a man and a woman who thus create a family.
In this vulnerable baby boy we are invited by the Host of Angels to worship the only begotten Son of the Almighty God. Undoubtedly for some people it can be a contradiction. There have been people who have refused to accept and give the assent of faith to the mystery of God becoming a human. It is beyond their comprehension. In the history of the Christian faith we have had people who swung to the extremes: of seeing only divinity in Jesus and denying his humanity or going opposite and seeing only humanity in Jesus while denying his divinity. The Gospels, following the firsthand experience of the Disciples of our Lord, have preserved faith that Jesus Christ is fully divine and fully human.
Today as we contemplate the Gospel of the Presentation of the Lord in the Jerusalem Temple we hear of two elderly Jews: Simeon and Anna and of their reaction to meeting a forty day old baby. Simeon, to whom ‘it had been revealed by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord,’ upon seeing the Baby Jesus saw God. The Divine Presence which was filling the Holy of Holiest in the heart of the Jerusalem Temple was now manifesting himself in the midst of the people. Simeon who could never enter the Holy of Holiest, as it was a yearly privilege of the high priest, rejoiced upon nursing in his arms the Son of God, ‘the salvation you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.’
The old Anna, whose long life was marked by loneliness and misery, was also ecstatic at the moment and ‘began to praise God; and spoke to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.’ The ordinariness of the situation of a baby being brought to the Temple by his parents did not distract Simeon and Anna from recognising God in him.
For those who may doubt the genuineness of Jesus’ humanity those Gospel narratives about his childhood should be the focus point. God the Father, the Father of Jesus, did not deny the reality of human life that a child needs a mother and a father. God the Father, the Father of Jesus, not only prepared the Immaculate Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son but he also prepared the loving home created by Mary and Joseph. They were not paid babysitters to look after Jesus. The first Christmas miracle was what happened before the Archangel Gabriel announced the Good News to Mary. It was an ordinary but also profound miracle of a man and a woman falling in love. Before the Archangel Gabriel announced the Good News to Mary she and Joseph committed themselves to each other and looked forward to getting married. That’s why St Luke in the Gospel did not refrain from calling Joseph and Mary: ‘the child’s father and mother.’ Why would he if even Mary herself after a three day search for a twelve year old boy Jesus said: ‘My child… see how worried your father and I have been, looking for you?’
My dear fellow believers! The profoundness of Jesus’ humanity was the manifestation of his divinity. His humanity was not only restricted to his physique. His humanity was also about growing in the home of a woman and man loving each other. As we continue our Christmas celebration let us pray so that all children of our world can have this blessing of growing in the home where the father and the mother love each other and commit to each other in the marriage.