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Sunday Scripture: Jesus grew in wisdom, grace and age

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

By Sister Betty J. Lillie, S.C.

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph: Sirach 3:2-7, 12-14; Psalm 128:1-5; Colossians 3:12-21; Luke 2:41-52

Having celebrated the birth of Jesus, the structure of the holiest family in Nazareth  becomes visible. How did that family live? There is little or no information about their daily life other than to study what is available about the times in which they lived.

There were few natural resources available in Nazareth at that time, and the same could be said somewhat of our time. Joseph no doubt worked to support his family, as did other men, in the nearby Roman city of Sepphoris. The archaeological remains of that city are impressive. The Roman building projects needed such artisans as stone masons who filtered into various aspects of the building industry. Those workers would likely not been extravagantly wealthy, but they must have been paid well enough. They would not have been destitute.

The women’s days would have been taken up with the home and the village.  Water needed to be carried to the home. Even then there was washing and cooking. Small children would have stayed at home, but growing boys may well have gone with their fathers and attended school in Sepphoris. At one time some of the most distinguished Jewish teachers were located there.

Our Gospel reading gives us the only information we have specifically about the boyhood years of Jesus. Jesus grew in wisdom, grace and age before God and the people. When His parents found Him in the temple in Jerusalem among the teachers, He was listening to them and asking them questions (Luke 2:46-47).

This gives us an insight into one aspect of Jewish education of the day. From the point of view of His human growth and development, Jesus may have learned the method from the famous Jewish teachers in Sepphoris who were the experts in Jewish matters. All who heard the boy were amazed at His understanding and His answers. Though the insight is somewhat in the realm of suggestion, it is also a plausible conjecture about the daily routine of the life of the Holy Family.

The second reading from Paul’s letter to the Colossians would give us a later picture of the life of a Christian family amidst the Greek culture. All the members of the household were instructed to love and respect one another.  Paul’s efforts to project the pattern of the Christian household to the Greek milieu and to educate new Christians to a new way of life must have been very difficult, but also it was rooted and built on mutual loving interaction.

We notice from the text that religious education also was to be a part of the upbringing of the children (Colossians 3:15-17). Teaching in the word and praying by singing psalms and spiritual songs are mentioned, as well as a cultivation of a thankful spirit to God in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Our psalm response represents a productive family as a wonderful blessing to those who are faithful servants of the Lord. Blessed are those who walk in God’s ways. (Psalm 128).

Sister Betty Jane is a faculty member at the Athenaeum of Ohio.

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