The Holy Family of Nazareth – Jesus, Mary, and Joseph – were “united by an intense love and animated by great confidence in God,” Pope Francis said on Sunday.
Speaking at the weekly recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father recalled that the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas is the feast of the Holy Family. The day’s Gospel recounts the story of the finding of Jesus in the Temple. The Holy Family had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover; but on the return voyage, Mary and Joseph discovered that Jesus, who was only twelve years old, was not in the caravan. They searched for Jesus for three days, finally finding Him in the Temple amid the doctors of the law. When they found Jesus, the Gospel says, “they were astonished”; and Mary expressed her concern to Jesus, saying, “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
Pope Francis focused on these two feelings of “astonishment” and “anxiety” in his reflection at the Angelus. In the Holy Family, he said, astonishment “never failed.” To feel astonishment, he said, “is the opposite of taking everything for granted… It means opening ourselves to others.” This attitude, he said, is important for “healing compromised relationships” and curing “the open wounds within the family.”
The “anxiety” felt by Mary and Joseph “shows the centrality of Jesus in the Holy Family,” Pope Francis explained. And so, he said, “we see why the family of Nazareth is holy: because it was centred on Jesus; all the attention and care of Joseph revolved around Him.”
Pope Francis said the anxiety felt by Mary and Joseph when Jesus was lost for three days “should also be our anxiety when we are far from Jesus; when we forget Jesus, going without prayer, without reading the Gospel for several days. Mary and Joseph, he said, found Jesus in the Temple; and we too, should seek Jesus in the house of God – and especially in the liturgy, where we have the living experience of Jesus, in His Word and in the Eucharist, “from which we receive the strength to face the difficulties of each day.”
The Holy Father concluded his reflection by asking everyone “to pray for all the families of the world, especially those that, for various reasons, are lacking in peace and harmony” and to “entrust them to the protection of the Holy Family of Nazareth.”