The Holy Family Was Even More Perfect than The Cleaver Family.

This week's reflection is written by
Rev. Richard R. DeLillio, OSFS.

The early days of television gave us a perfect family series to model family life. Leave it to Beaver provided a perfectly dressed dad and mom who handled their everyday family problems of their two trouble-prone children, Beaver and Wally, in one weekly thirty-minute segment. However, Ward and June were not like the parents who watched from the real world.

While Yahweh’s chosen people were never a perfect family like the Cleavers either, they tried their best to be faithful to his commands. They often succeeded, but more often they made bad choices, grew weary, floundered in their obligations, complained, fell on bad times, and Yahweh had to step in and help. Yahweh frequently corrected, reprimanded, and in the end, helped them to begin again.

What was constant throughout their desert pilgrimage experience was Yahweh’s presence. It was God’s presence that aided them to overcome their challenges and sustain them when they could not do it themselves. God’s presence was crucial to their survival all through their lengthy relationship in the good times and in the disobedient times. God stood ready to intervene.

Then there was Jesus’ family. They did not mirror the Cleaver family. The Holy Family, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were not without their own problems. Jesus’ humble birth was in a stable. Instead of a midwife to assist Mary in Jesus’ birth, she was surrounded by cows and sheep. Soon after his birth, Herod made the Holy family refugees because he feared Jesus’ power. The family emigrated to Egypt living in a foreign country before settling in Nazareth where their daily problems took longer than a thirty-minute TV segment to settle.

It is during those special hidden years in seclusion, that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph bonded as a family. During these years, Mary and Joseph taught Jesus all he needed to know to be fully human as well as the Savior. Jesus learned to walk, talk, and how to be compassionate. And above all, Jesus learned how to be kind, forgiving, and humble. Jesus was prepared well to serve his Father.

With God’s presence hovering ever so close, Jesus knew joys, successes, and failures. With Joseph’s skills and assistance, he learned the carpenter’s trade. And when Joseph died, Jesus experienced loss and grief.

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The Holy Family were good Jews, faithful followers of the Mosaic law. As a result, Jesus learned how the loving God, his Father, stands with all families in either good and difficult times.

Perhaps the most remarkable moments were when Mary and Joseph listened to Jesus describe his fears about what lay ahead and how he would handle his suffering, his pain, and the loneliness of being the Messiah. He may have asked his parents whether he was strong enough to endure all that was before him.

Jesus wanted to win back the fickle and often insensitive chosen people his Father longed to have close again. Mary and Joseph listened to it all and encouraged him to keep his love for his Father as his key incentive.

Mary and Joseph remembered their anxiety when they could not find Jesus in the Temple. But the Holy Family always knew that the constant in their life was the presence of God who was always near to give solace, concern, and guidance. He would solve the difficult moments, not Ward Cleaver.

As we enter yet another new year, God continues to lead everyone he loves. His chosen people, the Holy Family, all families, and the Church whether in light, darkness, joy, or pain. With this commitment God reminds us that, “He is our God and we are His people always.”