HOLY FAMILY SUNDAY. December 30, 2018. Gospel: Luke 2:41-52. Theme: We All Live in Nazareth.
What touches me the most about today’s Gospel are the closing verses which summarize the next 30 years after Bethlehem. It tells us that Jesus lived an ordinary family life in the little village of Nazareth. The reason this speaks to me so loudly is because it is where Jesus, Mary and Joseph begin to really touch my life as real persons living a real life as we all do. There are no heavenly angels proclaiming God’s praise to shepherds. No mystical magi following a miraculous star and brining precious treasures. Those extraordinary things all belong to magical Bethlehem but not to ordinary everyday Nazareth.
I feel at home in Nazareth. Nazareth, for me, is a symbol for the ordinary everyday life we all live. Nazareth means living by faith not by miracles. Nazareth means going to work and earning a living. Nazareth means enjoying meals with family and socializing with friends. That’s where I live. That’s where we all live. And most amazing of all that is where the Son of God freely chose to live for 90% of his life as a man. 30 of His 33 years on earth were spent in the ordinariness of Nazareth.
Now let’s pause for a moment and ask ourselves: what does this say about ordinary life if God himself came down from Heaven to live it for 30 of his 33 years? What does it have to say about holiness? About living life so as to reach the Kingdom of Heaven? Because those are precisely the things that Christmas is all about. I believe it says a whole lot about how we become holy, how we live the Gospel and become more like Jesus.
Somewhere along the way we have gotten the idea that God is best loved and served by doing great things and carrying out “churchy” or religious works. When someone decides to live their life for God, they think they have to go off to a monastery or to a Third World country in serve the poor. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with those things if that is indeed what God asks of an individual.
But for most of us, Nazareth shows us how wrong that way of thinking can be! Nazareth shows us that God can be loved and served in the ordinary everyday realities of life, which we offer up to Him in a spirit of praise and in union with the ordinary life lived by our beloved Brother and Lord, Jesus.
· He was obedient to his parents; he played with the village kids and attended synagogue with them as one of them;
· He grew up to become a craftsman, a laborer, earning his living by the sweat of his brow and the work of his hands, just as we do.
· He had to pay taxes to the emperor, deal with bills, and meet with the men of the village to arrange for protection and provisions.
· He went to the synagogue every Sabbath, and prayed with Joseph and Mary every night;
· He enjoyed times of celebration with weddings and births, and mourned in times of sickness and death.
So, I think it is very important for us to remember that by sharing in a life just like ours, Jesus as God-in-the-flesh has made everyday life a pathway to holiness.
Yes, the events of Bethlehem were awesome and each had its role in the Christmas story…But the angels gave their message to the shepherds and then returned to Heaven…And the magi paid their homage to the Newborn King and then returned home to the East…
But Nazareth…Nazareth has never disappeared but has been lived on for centuries and is being lived even today, in the ordinary everyday lives of Christians like you and me. Nazareth is where I think we find the real meaning and purpose of Christmas lived out, because it is where the extraordinary became ordinary, where the God who created each one of us, lived every-day of his life just like each one of us. Nazareth is where we truly find Jesus as our Savior who is Emmanuel: God-with-us. God-among-us. God-as-one-of-us.