Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Holy Family opposed to ours... :)

Last Sunday, being the Feast of the Holy Family, Father spoke about the image of perfection that the Holy Family exudes. This has left me pondering all week. His point was that perfection may not be so easy, as they traveled under stress a lot. (I'm paraphrasing here, of course.) My mind wandered to a different focus, namely "why do they always look so perfect and calm?" Simple: Jesus was at the center. duh!

When you look at the pictures, EVERY picture, they are calm and content. As they journeyed to Bethlehem: Let me tell you, as a recently pregnant woman, if we had been traveling on a donkey the night before I was giving birth my face would not have been so calm, and I doubt Mary said any of the things I would have been telling my husband. The fleeing to Egypt: I have travelled with an infant, they were more likely traveling with a toddler, which is no doubt harder. Of course, the woman who had seen an angel and conceived of the Holy Spirit couldn't doubt her husband's dream, no matter how outlandish it seemed. So forth they went - with a toddler, in the middle of the night. So did Jesus fall back asleep, or did He remember to go to the bathroom before they started? Does it matter when you're traveling by donkey on a dirt road? It doesn't matter, when the Son of God is the center.

The image that has come to my mind a lot this week is the serene acceptance in Mary's face through all of this. Do you think that Jesus, the Incarnate Word, slept through the night right away? Seriously, this is foremost in my mind these days! The bags under my eyes could swaddle my baby. But of course, "No crying He makes." Would it have mattered? If we trusted without any doubt or concern that God's plan was going to come to perfection in our children, would it matter to us how often we had to re-calm them or tolerate the temper tantrums?

While some of us have a tendency to focus on their perfection, I have thought more about their hardship, and what they endured. Through it all, there's a reason they are referred to as "The Holy Family" - not because their life was perfect and trial-free. Rather, because of the way they endured their trials with peaceful acceptance and contentment. If we keep Jesus at the center of our own families, it doesn't mean we get a free ticket out of trials. Being a Christian sure as heck doesn't make life easier. Keeping Jesus in the center instead simply gives us the tools and the grace to use them. And come to think of it, Father John was right - none of us have been forced to pack up in the middle of the night to save our children's life from murder. Instead, we have "minor" trials that challenge us to keep The Incarnate Word at the center of our families, too. We "can do all things through Christ who strengthens" us.