The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph – Fr. Pete Iorio
December 29, 2019 – 8:30 & 11:00 AM
“Do not deny your children their struggle.” A friend of mine whose son had just gotten married several years ago stated this, indicating that she and her husband as parents should not always bail them out financially or in any other way. There is value in struggle. This is wisdom for the ages. Do not deny your children their struggle, she said. Struggles make you stronger as a person and as a couple and as a family and give you greater trust in God.
This certainly does not mean: Make your children struggle or to abandon your children or to not help them, but it certainly means that you cannot protect your children from all difficulties in life, even if they are not seemingly fair in your view. On one extreme, we saw this with the college entrance scandals. On another end, it rears an ugly head with “helicopter or lawnmower parents.”
When parents are de facto not trusting the goodness and expertise of a teacher and thinking that their child does no wrong, there is a problem. When a parent tries to prevent a child from experiencing anything negative or bad, there is a problem. They are not preparing and helping their child live life in this world which is imperfect and sinful. This is an important aspect of the incarnation, as we reflect today on the Holy Family. The Son of God, and Son of Mary, struggled with many difficulties in this world and through the struggles was transformed into the most loving person ever.
On this feast of the Holy Family, we see that Joseph, Mary and Joseph certainly did struggle, from the very beginning. There was no room at the inn when Mary was about to give birth to a baby. So, when the young mother, Mary, gave birth and laid her son in a feeding trough, called a manger, she must have struggled. The couple was threatened by a cruel tyrant King Herod, who was afraid of the predictions of foreigners, the Magi. Joseph in a dream was told to take his family to another country to avoid persecution. Just imagine what the journey was like back then: no transportation like we have now, the lack of protection against bad people along the way, whether or not they were welcomed and helped in a foreign land with different languages and customs. God the Father certainly did not deny His only begotten Son His struggle in the world. Nor did God deny the struggles of Mary and Joseph.
Joseph and Mary grew in grace and wisdom as they continued to raise Jesus. And it was through their struggles that they learned the biggest lessons and developed deeper faith in God and in themselves. One characteristic of Mary is that she reflected on all of these things, trusting in God and seeking His guidance and insight. This is a very good thing for us to do as well.
The child is Emmanuel, GOD WITH US. Let us trust that as with Mary and Joseph, so with us today in the midst of our struggles. He is with us in good time and bad times, in suffering and in joy and in our frustrations and challenges. Let us trust Him to lead us.