We tend to think of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as a model family. But I suspect this Holy Family was like most families – they, like most families, had more than their share of worries, disappointments, despair and anxiety. After all Joseph married Mary and accepted her mysterious pregnancy knowing that he was not the father of her child. Mary and Joseph seemed to have lost Jesus when they accidently left him behind in the temple. Imagine their worry when they realised he was missing. Instead of following in his father’s footsteps as a respected carpenter, Jesus became a wandering social commentator and preacher. What a disappointment that would have been. Ultimately Jesus was executed like a common criminal. What disgrace that would have brought upon their extended family.

Yet through all of those anxieties they remained “holy”, full of love of God and one another. We all live in a messy world and messy things happen, no matter who we are or what family we belong to. The key is how we respond when things go wrong.

The Holy Family of Nazareth is not a family we should emulate because they were “perfect” or because they are the epitome of “happiness”. In fact, they were, as their extended family would have been, far from “perfect” and “happy”. But they were HOLY because they loved and trusted God and they loved and trusted each other in spite of enormous difficulties and problems. Most of all, they trusted and accepted Jesus unconditionally.

The invitation on this feast is to do our best to make our own families and circles of friend’s environments of trust no matter what happens.

Rev Fr Tom Stevens