Ready for another installment on this Advent series on “Parenting Jesus”?
Jesus told lots of parables about family life. There is the obvious story about the rebellious prodigal son, a gracious father and an angry elder brother, but you may remember also the story of the father who asked his two sons to work in the vineyard, where one son obeyed and the other did not. Even the story of poor old Lazarus speaks of family as the rich man begs Abraham to send someone from the grave to warn his living brothers.
Families that Jesus saw here on earth were often marked by conflict. Family life in the home of Mary and Joseph was no exception. His earthly brothers did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah; in John chapter 7, we read how they mocked him and doubted that he really was able to do miracles. How different this behavior was from the family life Jesus knew in Heaven! There, with his Heavenly Father, Jesus had experienced an amazing peace and unity of purpose. His relationship with his Father was not soiled by envy or anger.
Jesus told another story in Mt. 7:9-11. That story was of a father who gave his child good gifts: If the child asked for bread, the father would not give a stone. Was Jesus remembering Joseph who gave good gifts to his children? Did Jesus recall how Joseph paid a high price to protect the life of his firstborn? Or was Jesus thinking of his Heavenly Father who paid an even greater price by sacrificing the life of his only Son?
Look at your own family. Have you contributed to strife or have you been a peacemaker? Have you thrown stones or offered bread? What good gifts can you give those you love this Christmas?