Today is the third day of Christmas, the third of twelve days in which Christians worldwide celebrate the feast of the Incarnation.
Today in particular, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, and the Gospel reading tells us about Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
As I sat in church today and listened to the Scripture, I was taken aback.
We are celebrating the Holy Family with a story about how Mary and Joseph lost Jesus?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to tell some other story? Maybe another look at the scene of the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, surrounded by his adoring mother and father? Messy, yes. But cleaning up a messy child is much easier than finding a lost one.
But this is what the lives of the saints are about–how God reaches into our daily lives, when we are desperate for him,to help us in the time of our greatest need.
Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe that God preserved Mary from sin from the moment of her conception so she could choose God’s will without the hindrance of sin and give the most beautiful ‘yes’ to God when Gabriel brings her the offer of an unplanned and amazing pregnancy to bear the Son of God. The grace of Jesus on the cross reached back through time to save her, to prepare her to be the ark of God’s new covenant, Jesus the Christ.
Maybe that’s too farfetched for you to accept, and that is okay. But when I think of the Gospel account on this feast day, I can’t help but rejoice…
Mary, the mother of God, LOST HER SON on vacation (okay, on a religious pilgrimage, but still).
Through no fault of her own.
It wasn’t her own personal failings that caused something bad to happen.
It wasn’t her lack of attention because of selfishness.
And we can’t blame it on her kid, because we know for sure he was blameless in the whole ordeal.
Now before you blame it on Joseph, just think about this. I think this story on this day tells us that sometimes parenting fails happen when nobody is to blame.
The perfect Son and his mother face an incredibly difficult situation, not because someone did something wrong, but because life is hard and raising kids is really really hard.
So next time you feel like you’re a horrible parent because x, y, and z have happened to you and your kids, remember this: parenting is hard.
I love this reading on this day because it comforts me. Yes, my sin gets in the way of parenting well. I am selfish. I am unkind at times. I am rude and lash out at my kids. But I am seeking the Lord’s help in this.
God knows how hard raising children is. His own Son was lost for a few days and the family He entrusted His most precious One to was frantic to find him.
Don’t be afraid. You’re not screwing this up irreparably.
Lean into Him when it’s hard. Take guidance from the other New Testament reading for the day, Colossians 3. It’s a guide for family life.
In the midst of all the crying and yelling, dress yourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
In the evenings when they’re fussy, bear with one another, and forgive one another because God has forgiven you.
On the messy days, most importantly, put on love.It’s the bond of perfection, completion.
When your kid gets lost and you don’t know how it happened or exactly what to do, let the peace of Christ control your hearts, and be thankful.
On the hard days, let God’s word fill you up, and seek his wisdom.
In the parent fails, sing songs to God, with gratitude.
And every day with kids, whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Merry Christmas, y’all. 9 more days to go.