Complicated people and complicated relationships. Isn’t it wonderful that today, the Feast of the Holy Family - Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Church celebrates complicated people and complicated relationships?
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph - a group of complicated people without substantial means, without a lot ofproperty, without straight as an arrow plans. A group of people who were led this way and that, who were askedto do incredibly hard, relational work with one another and with others.
What a wonderful group to celebrate and emulate.
Today’s readings are about living in right relationship with one another and with God. The readings tell us totake care of one another, be considerate, let peace control our hearts. Even when it causes “great anxiety,” (as Luke’s Gospel notes) even when the person acts erratically (as the reading from Sirach tell us), evenwhen you have a justified grievance against someone (as Paul's letter to the Collosians notes), be in rightrelationship with God and with one another.
In word and in deed, be in right relationship with one another. What an order - it sounds good from a reasonable distance, but in the muck and the mire it can be difficult to fulfill. Today’s readings allude to the fact that it will not be easy. Jesus’ way, God’s way, is not predictable. It is confusing - Luke’s Gospel notes “they did not understand what he said to them.”
It is not easy to take care of one another, in word and in deed, especially those who are different colors, different countries, sexual orientations, genders, faiths, abilities, people who are complicated. It is much easier to care for things that are easy, safe - uncomplicated.
It is not easy to have peace in our hearts - when we fear we will lose something we have, or not getsomething we think we need. It is not easy to have peace in our hearts when people behave unpredictably,when verbal or physical violence is the default response, during the waiting times, in the “looking for” times.
Today celebrates Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, complicated people who behaved in complicated ways. But they loved God, they loved one another, and they loved others. Their humanity probably leaked out in some messy ways. But they kept trying - they kept putting on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. They bore one another and forgave each other.
Today’s readings offer a compass to us in dealing with complicated people, including ourselves. Let Christ control our hearts. Let us be one complicated body in right relationship with each other, forgiving one another as we have been forgiven, in love with one another as we have been chosen in love.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family, complicated people, pray for us, and dwell within us.
Emily Garvey is originally from central Illinois, and currently lives in northern Indiana. She attended Saint Mary’s College, in Notre Dame, Indiana, where she double majored in Philosophy and English Literature. After graduating in 1994, she worked for social services agencies for eleven years, serving people with developmental disabilities, mental illness, and dementia. After this period, Emily felt called to do student formation work in higher education, accompanying the next generation of people that will attend to and make policy decisions about and for marginalized populations. She subsequently began working at the University of Notre Dame in the field of student formation. Soon thereafter, she also began graduate studies in Theology at the university. In 2016 she obtained a Master’s degree in Systematic Theology. She currently works for the University of Notre Dame in a program that brings together a summer long justice learning immersion for undergraduates with tenets of Catholic Social Teaching. Emily is a lifelong Catholic and a mother to two sons, one of whom is transgender. Since 2015, Emily has engaged in respectful dialogue, in public and in private, about Catholicism and gender diversity. She does not claim to speak for all Catholics, trans people, or parents - rather, she shares her story of support of her trans child and love of the Catholic Church as a way to further respectful encounters, conversations, and right relationships.
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