A priest had a conversation which can bring a new appreciation to the movie. After Christmas he had a visitor, a middle aged man, who wanted to go to confession after watching Die Hard. Before the confession happened they had a yarn as the priest doubted that watching Die Hard was so bad that one had to go to confession. The man explained that he planned to abandon his family. However when he watched the movie, in which the main character fights so hard to save his wife and ultimately his family; something broke in him. There was a voice in his head saying: ‘Why can’t you fight for your family too?’
Maybe there are more stories like this one. Maybe Die Hard should be classified as a Christian movie. It captures what St Paul once wrote to the Romans: ‘However great the number of sins committed, grace was even greater.’
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! St Luke recorded most of the events which make our Christmas. This Sunday as we honour the Holy Family of Nazareth, the Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we hear of the last recorded event from Jesus’ childhood. It happened the when Our Blessed Lord was 12 years old. Before we focus on the Gospel passage about the visit of the Holy Family to Jerusalem I would like to recall a passage from the Gospel of St Matthew. It tells us that when Joseph learnt that his wife Mary was pregnant he wanted to send her away discreetly. Then ‘Die Hard’ according to the Bible starts. First it is God the Father who sends his angel to Joseph. By the way, we tend to think that angels are cute winged creatures. Some of them may be but there are angels who are great warriors. Such an angelic warrior was sent to Joseph. What was the purpose of his visit? Fighting for a marriage which was about to break down. Joseph joined the combat. He didn’t say anything in the Bible but his actions to fight for his marriage and his family speak volumes.
Let us return to the Gospel for this Sunday. I will not speak long volumes but I would like to extract from the passage written by St Luke two insights.
Firstly we learn that Joseph was a warrior for his marriage because had allowed himself to become very close to Mary. Mary gives us a hint when she says to Jesus after finding him in the Temple: ‘See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you?’ Mary and Joseph shared the same feelings and vision. The worry of one person was the worry of another. Similarly the joy of one person was the joy of the other. We can see it further in their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. St Luke tells us that ‘every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.’ Only men were obliged to do that. Women didn’t have to undertake the difficult and dangerous journey. They could stay home. If we see them going together every year to Jerusalem we see that they were united in their way they lived their marriage covenant. They were truly one in their marriage.
Secondly we see Mary and Joseph determined to have Jesus back. Of course it can be explained by saying that Jesus was their child but He was also their God and Saviour. Their fighting to have Jesus in their life, and to have him in the centre of their marriage life, is the secret of the happy and lasting marriage.
I would like to finish with a powerful acknowledgment we find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding the family. In the Catechism, in the section on the Sacrament of Matrimony, the Church reflects on the early days of Christian Faith when the ‘core of the Church was often constituted by those who became believers ‘together with all their household… These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.’
My Dear Fellow believers! At the time the Christians were prohibited from building their churches but their shrines, their places of worship were homes of people who converted to the Faith. When believers were coming to Mass they didn’t see paintings or statues of Jesus, Mary or saints. What they saw were living images of the family members who hosted them. Watching those family members living their Christian life beautifully the others were inspired and strengthen in their faith.
I would like to thank the families who die hard every day to their selfishness and ambitions in order to protect their domestic church as we call families. Remember you are ‘islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.’