Joy Amidst Uncertainty

Holy FamilyFeast Of The Holy Family 2020

Deacon Robin Mendonca

Posted: December 27, 2020

The Holy Family lived During a Time of Uncertainty  

When we think of the Holy Family, of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we tend to think that here is the perfect family. The images we see during the Christmas season of the nativity scene are quite endearing, however, the gospels show us Jesus, Mary and Joseph lived in a time of great uncertainty. In many ways their times and our times have some similarities. They might not have been in a lockdown because of COVID-19 but there was lots of political turmoil, religious persecution and economic uncertainty.

Remember just a couple days ago on December 25 we celebrated the King of the universe being born, not in a hospital or in a palace, but in a dirty, smelly stable surrounded by farm animals.

These types of uncertainties are a part of our lives as well

These types of uncertainties that we see in the life of holy family are things that we too also experience because our own families and our own individual lives can have lots of uncertainty. And uncertainty can be something that is quite painful and can cause a lot of mental anguish especially when we stop to think about all the various areas from which this uncertainty can come from be it our health, the strength of relationships within our families, our financial position or the prospect of what the future holds for us.

With this we can wonder, what’s this upcoming new year going to be like? What’s the next few years going to look like? Will we get back to normal? What’s my job going to look like? What’s school going to look like? Am I going to be happy? Fulfilled? How am I going to manage? And so on.

The only certainty we have is the past

In many ways, what we’re seeking is certainty with our lives and certainty with what the future holds. But that’s a real challenge because, try as hard as we possibly can, we can never guarantee ourselves a future which is free of ambiguity. In some ways the past tends to be more certain than the future.

Because when we look back at the past we can realize how we’ve been guided to where we are today, we can see the various obstacles that we’ve been able to get through and the blessings that we’ve received along the way. But also, we tend to remember the past because the past is certain, and we know we can’t change it. Think about how we like to tell old stories and reminisce about fond memories.

One of the reasons we do this is because, first off, we can look at those things in the past and think about what we like about them and how they made us feel. I’m not saying that all past memories are good memories but we’re using this as an illustration to show that generally speaking the past has a certainty to it whereas the future tends to carry more uncertainty. And when it comes to the future, we can let the lack of security and the lack of certainty steal our joy from us. But is there a way to have joy even when things are uncertain?

Joy in uncertainty?

Well I think scripture shows us that this is certainly possible. Think about the time when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would be the mother of Jesus. The angel simply came, announced this news, Mary submitted to the Lord’s will and then the Angel left. No other instruction on how to handle the fact that she was pregnant was provided to Mary. No instruction was provided to her on how she would break this news to Joseph, her fiancé was provided. No preparation was given about how she and Joseph would raise Jesus.

She wasn’t told that Jesus would be born in a stable in Bethlehem, that three wise men would come visit them, that Jesus would get lost in Jerusalem, that St. Joseph would die an early death and that would eventually Jesus would die on the cross. None of this was revealed. Mary and Joseph had to take things day by day and have FAITH that God was present in their lives.[1]

Faith is the Answer

And now the same is true for us. Just like the Holy Family who had to have faith that God was with them, so do we have to have faith that God is with us, within us and is in control of our lives especially during this time of pandemic, lockdown and isolation. And this is the key to having joy amidst uncertainty. Now faith is a virtue and virtues are gifts from God but that doesn’t mean we have no part to play. On our part it takes practice and growing in the habit of this virtue.

There are various ways that we can grow in faith but here are two ways we can grow in this. First, it is important that we vigilant over our thoughts. St, Paul, in Corinthians, teaches us that Christians have the ability to replace negative thoughts with godly thoughts.[2]  And secondly, we must PRAY because faith in the end is a relationship with God and faith means really believing that the God who made us loves us more than we can ever imagine that he has our life in control and that he will never lead us where His grace will not sustain us.

Today and always, let us ask for the intercession of the Holy Family so that like them we can rejoice in our joyful moments and continue to have that joy even amidst uncertainty.

[1] Talk given by Fr. Mike Schmitz from Ascension Presents

[2] 1 Cor. 2:16

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