In many Christian churches this weekend, we gather in faith to celebrate the feast of the Holy Family — a family of loving relationships between a mother, a father and a son.

And not just any mother, father, and son.

No, this was a mother who was “full of grace’ and open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. This was a father who trusted when many other men in a similar situation would not have — a father who could have made a different choice, but didn’t. And this was a son who was, and is, THE SON, our God who came in the flesh to Mary and Joseph.

The fortunes of this family could have gone differently had Joseph and Mary not been ready to accept whatever God was asking of them. For this, we call them holy. And we owe them our profound gratitude.

I wonder what Mary and Joseph thought about this. Were they worried at hearing people talk so openly, even controversially, about their son? Did they do their best to try to slip away and disappear into the crowd? But I also feel that they probably felt a certain amount of relief. After all, Jesus was still an infant. That means that it hadn’t really been that long since an angel had visited Mary and Joseph and told them some incredible things. While, what the angel told them had come true, there still might have been a part of them that wondered about it all. I would imagine they wondered if they understood correctly, if it was all real and not simply their minds playing tricks on them. They probably needed as much affirmation as they could get — first from the Magi, and now from these two strangers.

Mary and Joseph were asked to see God in some extraordinary events, see God in a pregnancy that, on the surface, made absolutely no sense.

They were asked to God in their tiny baby boy. That’s what they did.

That’s what they said yes to and that shows a level of trust that is hard to come by. It’s asking a lot to accept something that no one else had ever been told or ever experienced in all of humankind.

Something extraordinary happened to each of them and they chose not to discard it or ignore it, but to find God in the midst of it. What an example to all of us!

In a certain sense, they must have been spiritually ready for just such an encounter. They were ready to meet the God in their midst and to experience a holy moment.

If only we could do the same!

These events show us that God comes to us on his terms, as he sees fit. That means we have opportunities to experience God in all sorts of circumstances — in joys and the sorrows, in successes and the failures and in the ordinary and in the extraordinary.

While we don’t believe for a second that God is hiding from us, we would be wise to continue to seek God in all sorts of places and all sorts of people and all sorts of experiences.

May we do our best to think both inside the box and outside the box. We must trust that both will result in countless encounters with the living God — holy encounters which have the potential to change us forever. Lord Jesus, help us on our search.

Deacon Stuart Neslin is a Parish Deacon and Parish Administrator at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Rome.

Recommended for you