“DAD, what was the first Christmas like?” The boy asked his father who was repairing a broken wooden toy horse.
“The first Christmas? Why do you ask, son?” His dad sighed and put aside the pieces of the toy on the table.
“I mean, was it dark, cold… Were the stars out? when did the shepherds arrive?”
“Hmmm, I can’t really say, son. It was surely dark and cold, but for stars and shepherds…” his father scratched his beard, trying to figure out his answer.
“…!!!?” His son eagerly waited for a reply.
“Tell you what! Why don’t you ask mom, she will surely know!”
The boy trots off to the kitchen excitedly.
A few minutes later the mother returns with her son. She dries her wet hand on her apron.
“Joseph! Couldn’t you at least tell Jesus a little about the angels or shepherds on that first Christmas!”
“But Mary, I was outside the tent looking for firewood, how would I know how many angels were inside with you!” Joseph responded.
* * *
I have imaginatively toyed with this scene of the Holy Family for some years now. I wondered how they would be if they were living in our times. Not too different I guess. In fact, their life and examples remain for our families a constant source of inspiration and conversion.
Here are some lessons we can draw from the ever-present past lives of Jesus, Mary and Joseph for our own families.
- Acting parents. Mary and Joseph were not controlling parents. They knew better than to impose their expectations on Jesus (i.e. career, marriage, vocation, etc.). But they heart-fully took their mission as His parents here on earth. They were constantly aware that they were parenting before God and not men!
- Roll Models. The awareness of their unworthiness did not hamper them from making decisions for Jesus and their family. They enriched their roles by “rolling along” with God’s plans, even some that were mysteriously trying (e.g. the Holy Innocents and the flight to Egypt), if only to carry out their charge better.
- Sound of silence. This was a powerful and permeating trait of the Holy Family. But silence doesn’t only mean the absence of noise, it also reflected their simplicity and detachment of life that gave their family serenity and a joyful self-giving.
- Poor dad, rich son…. By worldly standards the Holy Family was materially poor. And yet each of them lived according to the dignity proper to their status. Moreover, they invested on the real and lasting treasures here on earth: the virtues. They treasured diligence, patience, magnanimity, cheerfulness, etc., to serve each other and their neighbors.
- Steadfast mom. Mary and Joseph were never drone-parents! They were close enough to Jesus but not controlling. Joseph, was always in the background, but supportive with his silent work. Mary always accompanied Jesus but never took the limelight. Instead, She chose the more difficult episodes to be beside Jesus, when there was no one else to stand by Him.
- Imagining your part. Perhaps, St. Josemaría idea can help us constantly apply the life of the Holy Family to our own: to imagine our place in that house in Nazareth. As one more with them, we learn the joy of serving and loving Jesus, Mary and Joseph in simple but unique ways every day.