Sunday Scriptures

A Watchful Eye and Prayerful Heart

By Msgr. Joseph P. Calise

“My father is lost.” At least that is what I told the security officer at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.

This is what happened: People were coming from all over the world to see the fair at Flushing Meadows Park. They wanted to see the Unisphere, to visit the Vatican Pavilion and see the Pieta, to taste foods from every nation at their respective pavilions as well as experience the wonderful visions into the future presented by Bell Telephone, GE, and Ford Motor Co. just to name a few.

All of us who were around then remember the boat ride through the Pepsi-Cola display during which we were treated to a Walt Disney-produced, international puppet performance of “It’s a Small World.” People traveled from far away to experience what was, for some of us, a simple bus ride away.

On many occasions, my father felt this would be a good way for us to spend the afternoon “together.” I put the word “together” in quotation marks because my father was no fan of the crowds or commotion. So, our usual afternoon began by selecting a convenient bench where he would remain as I went solo to the various attractions. After each, I knew it was my responsibility to return to the bench, check-in and then go off on another adventure.

On one of my “check-in” trips, the bench was empty. So, as a dutiful 10-year-old, I went to the security officer and told him, “My father is lost.” Actually, he had only gone into the restroom and must have been quite surprised when he was greeted at the bench by security personnel. The expression of worry on his face as he was brought into the security office made it clear that to those in charge it was I who was presumed lost, not he.

Today’s Gospel presents a very human family scene. Realizing that Jesus was not with them, Joseph and Mary search the caravan and ultimately return to Jerusalem. There, they finally find Him seemingly teaching the teachers in the temple. When they get close enough, Mary pleads, “Son, why have You done this to us?”

Their 12-year-old Son’s presence in the temple caused them great anxiety. For His part, He simply wondered, “Why were you looking for me?”

They knew even before He was born that this would be no ordinary child, but now, the prophecies are starting to become real. They knew Him to be the Son of the Most High and the meaning of that is starting to manifest itself. The frantic scene of worried parents searching for their lost child with which the Gospel begins evolves into the acceptance that Jesus was beginning to discover Who He is. They learned with Him what that would mean. But He was not ready yet.

An adage goes that when the baby bird is ready to fly, the mother will push him from the nest – but not before he is ready. Until then, the mother will nourish and nurture him in the nest. So, they go back to Nazareth where, as Scripture says, Jesus “advances in wisdom and age and favor before God and man,” and Mary “treasures all these things in her heart.”

The Holy Family is presented to us today as an example of the love that encourages and allows each member to grow to a discovery of his potential while offering, at the same time, a watchful eye and prayerful heart. Their holiness comes from acknowledging the presence of the Son of the Most High in their midst. With their love, He did advance in understanding His Father’s will and accepted it through the Cross.

From His Father’s house now, He invites us to share the supportive love of the Holy Family and to encourage one another to grow in favor before God and man. In our biological families, our parish families, our human family – may the awareness of God With Us be our source of holiness.

Readings for the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Sirach 3: 2-6, 12-14 or 1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28

Psalm 128: 1-2, 3, 4-5 o Psalm 84: 2-3, 5-6, 9-10

Colossians 3: 12-21 or Colossians 3: 12-17 or 1 John 3: 1-2, 21-24

Luke 2: 41-52

Msgr. Calise is the pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka and Transfiguration parish, Maspeth.

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