Today’s first reading begins telling us that “God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons” (Sirach 3:2). Thus we are astounded when we hear Jesus’s words, further on in today’s Gospel when he tells his parents, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” It seems as though he is suggesting that they do not have rightful authority over him. Yet the narrative continues: “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.”
The key to unlocking the enigma of the Gospel is to bear in mind two things.
First, recall that in every Mass we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We pray that God’s will be done on earth, but earth is not our true homeland. We are meant for heaven. The purpose of a holy family is to keep our focus on that reality.
Although it would not make sense for Jesus to say, “No, Mom, I’m staying here in the temple, because my first priority is to do my Father’s work,” it does make sense for him to remind his earthly parents that his Father — Our Father — has priority over him.
Second, it often happens that the Gospel does not connect to our ordinary experiences (e.g., the child’s apparent dissobedience in today’s Gospel turns out to be a lesson in obedience that his mother keeps in her heart, whereas most parents under the same circumstance would chastise their children for such insolent insubbordination). When God’s Word seemingly contradicts our expectations, we should question not the Gospel, but rather whether we truly “get it,” and then ask why we don’t so readily “get it.”
In other words, do we think the way the world thinks or the way God thinks? Obviously, we are human. The more time we spend involved in the things of this world, the more our mentality conforms to the things of this world. The more we set aside time for God, the more our minds conform to the things of God. That is why the Holy Family does not disintegrate over what could have been an embarassing episode in the public eye. They focused on fulfilling God’s will, first, rather than their own emotions and personal concerns.
Traditionally, many couples renew thier wedding vows and bless their children on today’s feast. Follow this link if you are interested: http://thisischurch.com/helping_you/renew_your_wedding.htm