Reflection: Holy Family

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – 1Sam.1:20-22, 24-28; Ps.83; 2nd Reading – 1Jn.3:1-2, 21-24; Gospel – Lk.2:41-52]


On this first Sunday after Christmas the Church is inviting us to look with admiration and meditate on the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus.

In the gospel today, after an introduction of what had happened, we are suddenly presented with the parents’ preoccupation and worries, especially the mother’s, because she lost her only son. Joseph’s presence is seldom felt, as in all the gospels, and it seems strange that it is Mary, the Mother, who reproaches the child Jesus and not the Father, as usually happens in similar biblical situations!

It is interesting that Jesus is found: in Jerusalem, after three days, in the Temple, disputing with the doctors… and all were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. Although these are all elements that will be later found and developed in Jesus’ death and resurrection, it seems important to note that the twelve year old Jesus is found “in the Temple”. The Temple denotes the presence of God. It was too early for the gospel writer to say that Jesus was God, even though in a way it is hinted. However, Jesus’ presence in the Temple at an early age was surely a sign that he was already in the presence of God – in keeping with what had happened in Mary through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, even though humanly speaking it seems disrespectful, Jesus’ answer to his mother, is an appropriate one. “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s business?” Alas! We are told that his parents, who were thinking according to their human minds and not according to what the angel had told both of them about this child, did not understand what he meant. Strictly speaking, the parents’ fear was in fact natural. Mary took it as if he had done something personally to them. Mary’s questions are an evidence of such anxiety. Jesus’ answer are on another level – and this is the reason why they did not understand what he said.

Jesus is asking the same question to us. He is asking about the motives and reasons of our search for him. More often than not, our main reason for looking for Christ is our own tranquillity and peace of mind. Jesus is telling his parents, and us, that our main reason for looking for Him is for the simple reason to get to know what is the Father’s will for us. If Jesus’ presence in the world was to do the Father’s will, then, so must be ours. Are we ready to do what the Father is asking us to do? What He wants can only be revealed to us if we are ready to do like Mary: to “store up all these things in our hearts” as soon as we get to know them through prayer.

“Lord, give us attentive ears to hear your question ‘Why were you looking for me?’ At the same time give us an open heart to be able to store up all the good things you have done to us and an appreciative mouth to be able to answer you during the coming year: ‘Here I am, Lord, ready to be busy with the Father’s affairs’. Thank You Lord!”


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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