Feast of the Holy Family
December 30, 2012
A PEOPLE IN WAITING; A PEOPLE IN SEARCH
Everybody is now in search for the child … The wise men “from the east” wherever that is, have gone down in religious history as proverbially out in search for the newborn child or “king” as both Scripture, tradition and yore would have us understand. The shepherds out at night plying their trade, by far, the lowliest of them all, brought out the news to a waiting world. Angels, with their figurative trumpets blaring and wings a-fluttering, delivered, not just an SMS, mind you, but a full-length recital and a momentous proclamation of the glories of a wondrous and mysterious God, who at some point, decided to be one like us and became man in and through His Son Jesus, Emmanuel!
His coming brought together an elderly man, a young woman, an elder woman and her equally elderly husband, who, like Mary the young woman, bore a child in her womb. Everybody then, as everybody now, was waiting for a child – nay, two children – to be born.
Everybody yes, but obviously not somebody. We all know the name of that potentate – Herod – who most likely did not look too kindly at children. Why, he had about 2,000 of them young boys murdered in cold blood! He, too, was out in search, but for a totally different reason and purpose.
Mary was a mother-in-waiting. Elizabeth, too, in her old age, was a mother-in-waiting … both of them expectant mothers in the fullest sense of the term, not reluctant child-bearers whose distaste for childbearing, totally obliterates the natural desire to be a nurturing mother.
But those who wait expectantly and eagerly and those who search with heart, soul, and mind have one thing in common … They either “go in haste” or do errands of charity, or welcome new life with alacrity and grateful glee.
Today we have a king and potentates allied with him who, like Herod, show so much distaste for new life. They are out in search for prosperity, for the good life, for that much ballyhooed GNP or WB ratings and rankings – mathematic all, that’s good for year-end reports, and definitely good for reigning kings and queens to gain more political mileage.
But they cannot wait. They do not know how to wait. They do not like to wait.
Today, we have a story at one and the same time of a family, as much engaged in searching as in waiting.
Isn’t this the story of our lives? Isn’t this the story of most Filipino families? Isn’t this what so many millions of us do in well over 130 countries all over the world, working our butts off, enduring lonely days and nights, and longing for home visits and vacations that are few and far between, waiting, searching for loved one’s left behind in our beloved country, making do with SKYPE and Facetime in order to link up and show love even at a distance?
Isn’t this waiting and searching what we all grew up with? … so many of us waiting and searching for that elusive college degree, so that we could take up the cudgels for our families and help send other siblings to school?
Isn’t this the common story of the Filipino families right now threatened left and right by so many challenges that make it so difficult for so many struggling families that are separated by distance, but kept intact by our culture and by our faith traditions?
We are a people who are used to waiting and searching. We are a people out on the move, searching for a better life, for better opportunities, for better education and all. And those who cannot move stay put, and do nothing else but wait – patiently, lovingly, and hopefully.
We have got good news today for the struggling family. And the good news brought to us by Joseph, Mary and the child Jesus, is also a story of struggle, a story of migration, a story of being in flight, not just for a better life, but for survival, running away from a potentate who disliked newborn baby boys, and who definitely could not stand competition!
And the waiting saga did not end there. It was complemented by a story of searching. Twelve years hence, when we would least expect further storms in the horizon, a sudden squall blew in the direction of the home front of the Holy Family … Jesus, the 12-year old went missing! Their lives were shattered once again. It was anothere disappoitment in the offing, another challenge in the making. When they noticed that the boy was missing, we are told that “they journeyed for a day.”
They were in search. They were troubled. They were worried.
The Philippine Church, too, like the Holy Family, is now in search. It is troubled. And we who hold on to Mother Church, may be worried. We are in search for leaders who respect the law of God. We are in search for believers who really believe and belong, not cherry pickers who only accept the acceptable and reject the unpalatable doctrines.
We are once more in a figurative exile. We are once again on the move, searching for our own little promised land of development with a soul, of prosperity without the need to do away with life unborn, of a better life, without the need for a bitter pill of anti-life tactics and methods.
We are not just in search for the child. We are in search for life in its fullness, and, following the example of the Holy Family, we swear today, never to give up in the face of so many challenges and so much difficulty. We promise today, to be like Mary and Joseph, out in search for the truth, and live that truth cost what might, happen what may.
O Lord Jesus Christ, we are anxious. We are bothered. In our lack of faith, we would like to ask: “Son, why have you done this to us?” Why have you allowed your people to go astray? Why is it that so much evil happens even to good people? Why is there so much pain, so much sorrow in the world?
Please help us, Lord, in our unbelief. Through the example of your Holy Family, through the example of Mary, your mother and ours, and her husband Joseph, teach us to wait – in faith and hope, patiently and lovingly. But give us, too, the energy and capacity to be in active search – for a more just and loving world, for greater prosperity while safeguarding your sacred laws, particularly those that pertain to the sacredness of life.
We are once more in semi-exile. We are a people on the move towards our own promised land of peace and prosperity, but a type of well-being that is not to be achieved at all costs. Teach us to be active in our waiting. Teach us to be patient in our waiting. But above all, teach us love, patience, forebearance, forgiveness, and love in our searching. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.