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1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28; Psalm 84; 1 John 3:1-2,21-24; Luke 2:41-52

We celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family each year between Christmas and the Solemnity of Mary, which automatically creates in our minds images of baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph as adoring parents.

But the Gospel today shows a different image: a missing child, and the frantic search of the parents as they imagined all the things that could have happened.

There are other moments in the life of the Holy Family that bring them right into fellowship with today’s newspaper subjects: the young family fleeing for their lives from threatened violence; the child grown and out on his own, following a path that causes his family concern; the child arrested in the night and taken to places unknown; the child executed for the convenience of a king who did not want trouble.

Other traditional images also touch us: the child and mother at the deathbed of the father;  the mother alone, having lost both husband and child. All these moments and more are included in our image of “The Holy Family,” and all are sanctified by having been part of the Incarnation. We would not wish such pain and suffering on anyone, yet our God has experienced such things as a human being, and remains God-with-us throughout everything we endure. God does not wish such suffering any more than we do.

What does God’s existence as part of a human family say to you about your own family life?