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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

OUR THEME FOR 2019
(Part 17)

GOD BEFORE FAMILY


January 20, 2019
Feast of the Santo Niño (in the Philippines)
Today’s gospel: Luke 2:41-52


When Simon Peter was called by Jesus, he left his family to follow him. When James and John were called, they left their family to follow him. Now Jesus and his parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover. “After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.” (v.43). Jesus, at the age of twelve, left his family to be about God’s work. Just like Simon and Andrew and James and John, who just immediately followed Jesus when called, he did not tell his parents what he was going to do.

When Joseph and Mary found him some days later, he was “sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (v.46). Mary rebuked him for what he had done. But Jesus answered, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (v.49). This can also be translated, “I must be about my Father’s work.”

What does all this tell us? First, obedience to God’s will takes precedence over family ties. God and His work are our first priority, certainly even before the all-important aspect of family life. Second, we are God’s children before we are human family members. And our children are first and foremost God’s children, and we have been given stewardship over them, and so must raise them according to God’s will and ways. Third, we must be about the work of the Kingdom, even as oftentimes this means having less time and focus on our family.

But does this mean that we can neglect caring for our family? Definitely not. If we are stewards, then we are held responsible and accountable. Further, we must recognize the importance of the family in the overall scheme of God’s workings in the world. Jesus himself was obedient to his human parents, who were stewards of God over him. “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them” (v.51a).

The family is the place of formation and care. Jesus spent thirty years with his family before embarking on his public ministry. In the home, with the care of his parents, “Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.” (v.52). The family, aside from being a place of love, nurturing and care, is the basic place of formation. The home prepares us for effectively doing God’s work later in life.

Thus the two most important aspect of our Christian life are family and mission. The two go together. We are called to be families on mission.

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