|Sleepy St. Joseph, pray for us!|
I have no intention of commenting extensively on the recent papal exhortation, nor even on reading the thing. It would get in the way of me completing Augustine’s City of God, for one thing. If you’re looking for extensive thoughts on the matter, Mr. Skojec has been providing birds-eye view commentary, and Mr. Bear is examining the document in excruciating detail.
Perusing the document quickly drives one to exhaustion. It has that almost hypnotic effect so indicative of intentionally non-offensive yet passive aggressive rhetoric. It either lulls the reader to sleep or drives him mad.
But I digress. After about half an hour of bored reading, I started running text searches, and my running obsession with St. Joseph paid off in spades. Here is a fascinating little selection from the middle of the document:
No family can be fruitful if it sees itself as overly different or “set apart”. To avoid this risk, we should remember that Jesus’ own family, so full of grace and wisdom, did not appear unusual or different from others. That is why people found it hard to acknowledge Jesus’ wisdom: “Where did this man get all this? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” (Mk 6:2-3). “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” (Mt 13:55). These questions make it clear that theirs was an ordinary family, close to others, a normal part of the community. Jesus did not grow up in a narrow and stifling relationship with Mary and Joseph, but readily interacted with the wider family, the relatives of his parents and their friends. This explains how, on returning from Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph could imagine for a whole day that the twelve-year-old Jesus was somewhere in the caravan, listening to people’s stories and sharing their concerns: “Supposing him to be in the group of travellers, they went a day’s journey” (Lk 2:44). Still, some Christian families, whether because of the language they use, the way they act or treat others, or their constant harping on the same two or three issues, end up being seen as remote and not really a part of the community. Even their relatives feel looked down upon or judged by them. (Amoris Laetitia 182)
|Jesus listening to people’s stories|
and sharing their concerns.
The really interesting language is used to describe what is in fact the popular idea of the Holy Family, in which the threesome of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph make up a kind of self-sufficient unit like an “Earthly Trinity.” P. Francis calls such a small unit “narrow and stifling.”
And he is right! A distorted devotional ideal of the Holy Family is indeed narrow and stifling, and earlier beliefs about the widowed St. Joseph’s children from a previous marriage and the so-called Holy Kinship are great antidotes to this narrowing devotional crutch.
Let us take this opportunity to move past the propagandist devotionalism of the past, and venerate the relatives of Our Lord as tradition tells us they actually were!
|“Even their relatives feel looked down upon or judged by them.”|