(1 Sam 20-22,24-28; 1 Jn 3.1-2,21-24; Lk 2.41-52)
Like many kiwis I come from a very mixed ancestry. My great grandparents were English, Irish and Polish. The first Vaney came as an English soldier in the 1840’s, seeking a new life; my Irish forebear came as a goldminer to the West Coast in the 1860’s while my Polish blood is inherited from a family fleeing from religious persecution at the hands of a Prussian assimilation that was devouring their native land. All of them were seeking to escape from poverty and constricted lives.
Today’s feast continues to celebrate the life and hope that families bring to the world. Despite the strains of consumer oriented and Covid conflicted societies in which we now live, families can often bring a sense of belonging, security and love that no other grouping can offer.
Family life, nevertheless, is hard work. Hannah had to bear the stigma of infertility for many years. She knew her son Samuel was a precious gift and had the courage to offer him back to God. (1 Sam 1.27-28) Then each child is a mystery. No matter the direction and constrains there is no foretelling what they might become. (1 Jn 3.2) That was true even for Mary and Joseph. Sometimes even adolescent boys have dreams that can stun their parents. Jesus loved his parents deeply but felt a call that went beyond their understanding. “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2.49)
As parents and children let us thank God for the gift of being part of the chain of life and pray that we can pass the baton of love onto the next generation.
Feast of the Holy Family year CThis Sunday