With this being both Christmas and the New Year, in fact, a new decade, we are given all we need for a new beginning. Pope Francis, in last year’s Angelus message on this feast, spoke of two words in the Gospel for that day… “Astonishment — they “were astonished” — and anxiety — “your father and me, anxious” — are the two elements to which I would like to call your attention: astonishment and anxiety. In the family of Nazareth astonishment never waned, not even in a dramatic moment such as Jesus being lost: it is the ability to be astonished before the gradual manifestation of the Son of God. It is the same astonishment that even strikes the teachers of the temple, “amazed at his understanding and his answers” (v. 47). But what is astonishment; what is it to be astonished? Being astonished and being amazed is the opposite of taking everything for granted; it is the opposite of interpreting the reality that surrounds us and historical events according to our criteria alone. A person who does this does not know what amazement is, what astonishment is. Being astonished is being open to others, understanding others’ reasons: this attitude is important for mending compromised interpersonal relationships, and is also indispensable for healing open wounds in the familial environment. When there are problems in families, we take for granted that we are right and we close the door to others. Instead, it is important to think: ‘What is good about this person?’, and to be astonished by this ‘good’. And this helps family unity. If you have problems in the family, think about the good things in the family member with whom you have problems, and be astonished by this. This will help to heal familial wounds. The second element that I would like to grasp from the Gospel is the anxiety that Mary and Joseph felt when they could not find Jesus…The anxiety that they experienced in the three days that Jesus was missing should also be our anxiety when we are distant from him when we are distant from Jesus. We should feel anxious when we forget Jesus for more than three days, without praying, without reading the Gospel, without feeling the need of his presence and of his comforting friendship. And many times, days pass in which I do not remember Jesus. But this is bad, this is really bad. We should feel anxious when these things happen. Mary and Joseph searched for him and found him in the temple while he was teaching: for us too, it is especially in the house of God that we are able to encounter the divine Teacher and receive his message of salvation. In the Eucharistic celebration, we have a living experience of Christ; he speaks to us; he offers us his Word; he illuminates us, lights our path, gives us his Body in the Eucharist from which we draw vigor to face everyday difficulties. And today let us go home with these two words: astonishment and anxiety. Do I know how to be astonished, when I see the good things in others, and in this way resolve family problems? Do I feel anxious when I am distant from Jesus?” On the feast of the Holy Family, I pray for immense blessings on you and all families for the New Year.
(Mother Seton Parish)