One short passage from today’s Gospel struck me. Mark tells us that Jesus was known simply as “the carpenter, the son of Mary.” This implies that Jesus cut no special figure during all those years he lived in Nazareth before beginning his public ministry. Jesus, with Mary and Joseph, lived a life that was not noticeably different from his neighbors’ lives.
And yet Jesus and his family lived lives of unimaginable holiness. Their daily activities were marked by the deepest interior love of God and one another. Jesus, Mary and Joseph found God in the ordinary family life of Jewish peasants simply by loving and working together, even though this love never called attention to itself. They did what all good Jewish families were supposed to do, but with extraordinary love.
This Gospel passage is consoling, assuring us that Jesus did indeed fully enter our human condition. It reminds us that during all those “hidden years” at Nazareth Jesus, Mary and Joseph found God in the routine, nondescript daily activities of housewife and carpenters.
And it assures us that our own holiness too flows not from escaping our often humdrum daily duties but from embracing and doing them with love for God and one another.
Always I am scandalized by reflections on Jesus that seem to remove him from the human condition, presenting him as a semi-divine figure emanating a heavenly light and floating weightlessly above the ground. This is not the image of Jesus of Nazareth found in today’s Gospel. Today’s Gospel assures us that the Word did truly become flesh and dwelt among us — as one of us!
And so the Holy Family becomes a real model for us, especially for Christian families.
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