This past Sunday after Christmas is also known as Holy Family Sunday—a time to celebrate Mary and Joseph’s role in the story of salvation. The day’s lectionary texts hinted at an obvious reality: The Baby Jesus didn’t turn into the mature Jesus overnight. There were at least 30 years between the angels’ announcement of salvation’s dawn and the beginning of Jesus’ formal ministry. Christmas was a wonderful event, but redemption’s revealing took time and effort!!
Mary and Joseph did that work. The designation “Holy Family” also required of them the full range of parenting tasks that were critical for their child to reach adulthood.
During those long years, both parents must certainly have wondered how long it would take for the promised rescue of God’s people (through their son) to take root. Their society was in political, economic and spiritual turmoil, but all they could do to participate in God’s redemption was to be good parents. Working for a living; passing on their legacy of justice-seeking and spiritual wisdom. Keeping this child safe and on a righteous path.
Those of us who are parents know what it took for Mary and Joseph to teach, discipline, clean up, play with, challenge and encourage their child into his adulthood. We understand how their parenting had to remain hopeful and insistent. We know full well how the puzzle of Jesus’ growth was comprised of thousands of parental tasks, decisions, and spiritual instincts. We can imagine Mary and Joseph’s patient question, “Will he live up to our hopes; will he fulfill those promises we heard so many years ago?”
During this post-Christmas time, we observe the blessing of family-ness, and acknowledge how Mary and Joseph made possible the salvation of the world in God’s Son, Jesus the Christ.
Holy parenting, indeed!