Why? Why? Why? Feast of the Holy Family

GOD’S WORD TODAY - Jonjee C. Sumpaico, S.J. (The Philippine Star) - December 29, 2013 - 12:00am

I remember those moments in my childhood when I thought that my tatay was the biggest person in the world.  I also remember that my nanay was the wisest person in the world. If I had questions or needed something that only a grown-up person could answer or give, I knew very well the people I had to approach. I grew up living with my colossal father and my understanding mother. And all seemed just fine.

This might just be a general case for children in their journey of growing up. They look up to their parents as people who can do no wrong; who cannot be buffeted by life’s storms; and who are always in control of things. Until of course they grow a bit older and realize that their journeys are a bit similar.

As I hit the midlife age of 40 a few months back, I asked my father how it was like for him to have gone through life. He narrated to me stories of how life was not that easy — that there were plenty of  struggles as well as successes. He told me how he had found strength in my mother and how they had grown old together through the years of holding on to each other and being grateful for the blessings and challenges that they faced in faith. Still, they had encountered lots of questions as they went through their own journey.

Perhaps this is the reality of life where we find ourselves in, as people who are “on the move” in our own specific times and places. Our life-questions may find answers, may be deferred, or may even be left hanging.

Pope Francis pointed this out as he addressed the Filipino community who visited him a few weeks after super typhoon Yolanda hit the country. After listening to Cardinal Luis Tagle’s words on the occasion of the blessing of the mosaic of Saint Pedro Calungsod, the Pope had this to say:

“I thank my brother Cardinal Tagle, for his words full of faith, full of pain and full of hope. Recently I too was close to your people. And I felt that the trials were tough, too tough! But I also felt that the people were strong! What the Cardinal has said is true: faith comes from ruins. The solidarity of all in a trying moment. Why do these things happen? We cannot explain them. There are many things that we cannot understand. When children begin growing up they do not understand certain things, and they begin to ask their father and mother questions: Why father? Why? Why? Psychologists call this the “age of the why” , the “age of the whys” . Because a child does not understand... And if we are careful we will see that the child does not wait for his father or mother’ s response, he will continue to ask why.... The child is insecure and needs his father and mother to look at him. He needs his parents’ gaze, he needs the heart of his parents. In these moments of great suffering, do not tire of asking: “why?” as children do.... And thus you draw our Father’ s eyes to your people; you draw the affection of our Father in Heaven upon you. Like a child asks: “Why? Why?” . In moments of pain, let this strength be prayer: the prayer of the “why?”, without asking for explanation, asking only that our Father watch over us. I am with you in this prayer of the “why?”

Sometimes, life does not have quick answers to offer. But we are assured in faith that Someone sees us through the daily grind. We may not find ourselves in our comfort zones but God’s promise of being with us becomes our source of strength and stability.

As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, we get a certain consolation from the knowledge that we are not alone. Even the Holy Family had its own share of questions in life. When the Angel Gabriel visited Mary, she had questions to wrestle with. When Joseph saw the angel in his dream, he previously had doubts over taking Mary into his home.

Both Mary and Joseph had to be sensitive to how God communicated to them – when to flee, when to keep still and remain in a foreign land, and when to have the courage to get back on their feet and return to their homeland.As they were true to their daily concerns, they brought their own “why” into prayer.

This example of life was perhaps the best gift that Joseph and Mary bequeathed to Jesus. It was not about the questions that people ask. Rather it is about how people of faith put God at the center in their asking of their questions.Teaching Jesus as He grew up to ask the help from His Father and to trust in God’s abiding presence even in the midst of the uncertainties of life was the best present  that Joseph and Mary gratefully returned to their Creator.

May we always learn that God’s gaze is our assurance and our hope. Joseph and Mary, intercede for us. Place us ever closer to your Son.


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