My Dear Sisters and Brothers!
Even if many Christmas postcards make no mention of Bethlehem story, even if many Christian postcards miss Joseph, the Gospels about Jesus’ childhood don’t miss St Joseph. He appears in the snapshots of those passages, not because he wants to get attention but because the Gospels want to tell us that God the Father gave his only begotten Son not simply to the sinless virgin but God the Father gave his only begotten Son to a married couple, to a woman and a man who loving each other had already created an environment for Jesus.
The Gospel for this Sunday of the Holy Family gives us another snapshot of the full Holy Family. Although the passage focuses on Jesus getting lost and later being found let me explore something else. St Luke says that: “Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. When Jesus was 12 they did it as usual.” I think that most of us could easily imagine those people walking up and down the valleys and hills of the Holy Land heading to the Holy City. To advance our imagination, however, let’s add this detail: The trip was done in small separate groups which consisted only women and only men. The meeting point at the end of the journey was the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem where the great festivities of Passover were being celebrated. In this way the joy of husbands being reunited with their wives and the joy of the wives being reunited with their husbands contributed to the joy of the festivities in the Holy City.
Those people of Israel after centuries listening to the Word of God, reflecting on the Word of God and praying the Word of God revealed to them by prophets and other holy men and women had come to realise that the marriage, this loving and committed relationship between man and woman, is far greater that any mansion could contain. The influence of the marriage reaches beyond the walls of their family home and strengthens the wider society as well.
When our Blessed Lord during the Last Supper prayed for his disciples he prayed so that they could be one, so that they could be united after the example and the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. That’s why he gave the Church some means to bring this unity about. One means is the sacrament of the Holy Orders the other means is the Sacrament of Matrimony. The Church teaches us that the two sacraments are the sacraments at the service of unity. They support the Church to treasure and strive for unity.
This Sunday I would also like to say a profound thank you to the married couples, particularly present in this church. As it is impossible to imagine the Holy Family without Joseph as it is impossible to imagine the Church being united without your commitment to each other as husband and wife, without your matrimonial love which is far greater, even for the biggest mansion to contain. May Jesus who was at the centre of the marriage of Mary and Joseph be at the centre of your marriage and family.