We continue to celebrate Christmas with two different holy days: the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (celebrated this past weekend), and the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. The first brings to mind images of the manger scene with Mary, Joseph and Jesus being quite peaceful, angels singing and shepherds worshiping. The Epiphany has become synonymous with the visit of the “three kings” from Orient are…(though Scripture calls them Magi – more a type of priest from Persia than a king). As quaint as these scenes are, I must confess that my household doesn’t seem to fit the same mold. My wife and I are not gently rocking our children to sleep while angels sing softly in the background. We are more likely scrambling to get the children in pajamas with teeth brushed hoping that more toothpaste ended up on the toothbrush than on the counter. I can’t recall the last time that 3 strangers showed up at our door bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I had a guy knock on my door telling me the “good news” that his company would beat out all other competitors in re-sealing my driveway – but that doesn’t seem to be the same thing that the Holy Family experienced.
The challenge for all of us is to go beyond the Christmas card pictures that dance in our heads this time of year and discover that the Holy Family’s life wasn’t always so serene. In fact, no sooner did the Magi come bearing gifts than an angel tells Joseph you must leave because an angry and jealous king is coming to kill your child. It took an epiphany – literally an “aha!” moment – to realize that God was truly among them. This certainly was the case with the visit of the Magi, but also in the day-today interactions as a family where holiness abounded. So it is with us. It’s not about looking for those picture-perfect moments (which consequently is exactly what everything in our society says we need to do), but rather in the everyday mundane experiences that we need to realize that God is truly with us. He calls us to holiness by and large not in some far away land, but right here, right now.
Jesus, I thank you that your Holy Family is real, with difficult decisions and challenging moments. Thank you that your family grew in holiness through these interactions. Help us to seek holy lives and holy families in our daily experiences this Christmas season and always. Amen.