Col. 3:12-17; Lk. 2:42-52
So great is the mystery of our Lord’s birth and incarnation that the Church gives us an entire season to reflect on its meaning. At Christmas, we realize that what has existed from before all time, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, has been revealed to us in human form. Similarly, Epiphany means manifestation.
Only the Gospel of Luke records this singular episode in our Lord’s young life, and He is manifesting Himself to us. He is manifesting Himself as God. There are no miracles in our Lord’s youth, but here His questions and answers cause the elders to be in awe and wonder at Him. Mary and Joseph, finding Him, are assured that He must always be about His Father’s business.
And He is manifesting Himself as man, in what it means to be human. He returns with them to be subject to them, and He grows in full stature. We live in a day and age which values independence and individuality, but it is by being subject that we come to our fullness: as children, subject to our parents, as our Lord was in the home at Nazareth, and always, subject to God, as He was, even at Calvary, fulfilling His mission and revealing, manifesting the resurrection.
This First Sunday after Epiphany is Holy Family Sunday. Today, the society has lost its trust in the family. This is apparent by the many efforts to re-define the family, the breakdown in family unity, and even the rejection of the family. But God trusts the family. The family is the place where faith is transmitted, where we first learn what it means to love, where we hear our name for the first time and come into our fullness. He trusts the family so much, that He sent His son, born in a family, to fulfill His purpose and mission. And each one of us belongs to a family.
For this reason, we call the family the little church. It should not be lost on us that our Catholic faith begins not in the temple, but in the family, in the manger at Bethlehem, at the home in Nazareth. But it finds it fulfillment in the temple, in the Sacrifice of the New Covenant, in the Holy Mass, the Sacrifice of Christ in time. And this is what we see today revealed by the birth and incarnation and young life of Christ, that in the big church as in the little church, we are subject to God, and by His love and grace, we come into our fullness.