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Reflection on the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Posted on December 26, 2021, by Eleanor Craig SL

1 Samuel 1:20–28        1 John 3:1-24        Luke 2:41-52

Yesterday we celebrated Jesus’ “Birth Day,” and today we celebrate his family.

Jesus was given to us in a family, given to us as the son of Mary and Joseph, grandson of Anne and Joachim, nephew of Elizabeth and Zechariah, cousin of John, member of the family of David, son of Jesse, from the town of Bethlehem, who was raised up to be King of Israel by Samuel, the prophet of Yahweh.  Jesus’ connections go way back and include the very poor, the very rich; the very powerless and the most powerful, men and women of every color and many beliefs, even to the beginning with Adam and Eve.

Yesterday we celebrated the coming of the Christ, and today we celebrate his family, which is our family, too.

The Christ who was before all things, burst into this world as the incarnate Word of God, bringing into being all that was created, is still being created and will be created.  In Christ we are daughters and sons of one Father-Mother, cousins of the primates, kin to the birds of the air and the grasses of the fields.  We are made of stardust, sharing DNA with all that is.  We are connected.

We began Advent with a reflection on longing — that deepest restless feeling that can only be addressed in the present moment.  We long for connection.  Perhaps we dream of resting in the comfort and support of family-like ties, but belonging isn’t that easy. For our nation we wish for harmony among our diverse peoples, but God knows that isn’t easy, some say it isn’t even possible. Across our world, the hope for peace and mutual acceptance seems to grow ever farther away. Longing for connection with our sisters and brothers near and far may seem like wishing on a star. 

Perhaps a different point of view is needed. Consider Jesus in the temple as his parents find him.  “Child, how can you have worried us like this?” Mary is speaking of the disruption of their family connections. But Jesus has become aware of wider connections and is embracing new responsibilities, in the community of Jewish teachers, in the culture of the Temple, in the world of his Jewish people. All of us have the capacity to grow throughout our lives into wider connection, not so much by seeking the reassuring sense of belonging, not by making ourselves comfortable in a close group, but by reaching out, actively connecting farther, taking on the responsibility for building relationships that may not feel natural, but are surely in the nature of God’s creation. 

Today let us celebrate and be glad that we are all destined to be connected.  We who are present this morning, let us deepen our connection in mutual prayer, joining in communion as the Body of Christ. May the Father of us all strengthen our longing to gather with all our sisters and brothers as God continues creating connections through us in Christ.


Eleanor Craig SL

Eleanor has been a Sister of Loretto since 1963 and an educator since birth. She graduated from two of Loretto's best known St. Louis institutions, Nerinx Hall High School in 1960, and Webster University in 1967. She taught mathematics at Loretto in Kansas City, where her personal passion for adventure history inspired her to develop and lead treks along the historic Oregon Trail. From 1998 to 2010 she created an award-winning program of outdoor adventure along the Western trails for teens who are visually impaired. Eleanor claims to have conducted more wagon trains to the West than the Mountain Men! From 2012 to 2021, Eleanor led a talented staff of archivists and preservationists at the Loretto Heritage Center on the grounds of the Motherhouse. She recently retired, but still serves in the Heritage Center as Loretto Community Historian.