A mother’s scold: son why have you done this to us?
A child’s answer with just a hint of sass: why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know where I would be?
There is a natural normal tension that occurs as children grow and mature and begin trying to make decisions for themselves.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph take this all in stride and return to Bethlehem where Jesus is obedient and grows into a man.
So often we react very differently to this natural normal tension. We get angry. We hold grudges. We yell and scream. In extreme cases, families are fractured beyond repair.
But this incident of Jesus remaining in the Temple doesn’t disturb the harmony of the Holy Family. Jesus, Mary and Joseph give us a beautiful example to imitate.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph all listened to God. There was place in each of their lives for quiet reflection. Through prayer they were able to hear God in the silence of their hearts.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph all treated one another with respect. They didn’t harp on past wrongs but moved toward forgiveness which brings a new dawn, a new day.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph made the practice of their faith a priority in their lives. That’s why they traveled to Jerusalem each year for the Feast of the Passover.
We can follow their example during this upcoming year to make our own families more like the Holy Family.
We can make a place for quiet reflection, as individuals but also as a family. As families, we could begin simply with phone-free meals and technology-free evenings.
We can work on treating one another with greater respect and kindness, saying to ourselves, “If I have to choose between being right or being kind, I should be kind.”
We can also begin to move past old hurts by moving toward forgiveness.
And we can make the practice of our faith a priority in our lives. An hour here in this place every week can’t hurt anyone and, if we are open, it has the possibility of making a tremendous difference in the quality of our families.
If we try to imitate the Holy Family in these simple ways, we may be able to take the natural normal tensions of everyday family life in stride just the way they did.