Having Dinner with the Child Jesus

This upcoming Sunday will mark the end of the liturgical Christmas season with the Baptism of the Lord. The Catholic Church starts Christmas on the Day of Jesus’ birth and ends it with His entry into public life. Thus, we explore thirty years in just three weeks.

Scripture tells us very little about Jesus’ life at Nazareth. Scholars say hardly anything was said because hardly anything was worth noting – so ordinary was His experience at home. But this is something I find extraordinary. Jesus, who could walk on water, multiply bread and raise people from the dead, lived quietly for 30 years doing the mundane, such that no one ever would ever guess He was God.

Jesus, the Incarnate God, swept the floor, worked on his studies and helped with dinner, just like at my house. These are the things that happen in just about every house. What would it be like to have dinner with the Child Jesus in Nazareth?

Dinnertime is really important to me. My goal is that my husband, kids and I can connect from our hours apart. But it’s usually less than idyllic. The girls and I get home and go to our separate stations: one daughter to the kitchen table for middle school homework, one daughter to the TV because she’s too young for homework, and I go to the kitchen to empty lunch boxes and work on dinner. Hopefully, dinner is cooked by the time Daddy gets home. And sometimes my girls complain that my cooking and table preparations weren’t fast enough, or I complain  the table wasn’t cleared of homework in time, or my youngest complains that the TV should remain on, or my girls complain that the dinner wasn’t what they were hoping for. We do connect. But it’s clunky. It’s part of the fallen world.

By grace, I had an experience in prayer of eating with the Holy Family, and it was completely different from eating at my house.

I was praying deeply with a friend, and, internally, I heard Mary calling. “It’s time for dinner!” she said. I sensed in prayer that Jesus and Joseph were attentive and eager. They stopped what they were doing, and they started to help. With unity of heart and mind, they seemed to sense what was needed without anyone asking each other. They were one. There was a great joy in the task – none of the complaining that we do at my house. And there was loving praise for the Father, who provided whatever it was that they were going to eat. There was a deep gratitude for whatever it was, and it was going to be eaten heartily.

It was so ordinary. And it was so extraordinary at the same time.

In that little snippet of a prayer experience of the most mundane part of the day, I felt the deep joy of a family. Every moment was an opportunity to love God and each other. They were so connected. They were so grateful. I am sure it was the family life God wanted for all of us. It’s the family life I want and continue to pray for.

Before we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, we have an opportunity to take these last precious moments of Christmas and consider how to make our ordinary life like that of the Holy Family at Nazareth. Liturgically speaking, Jesus is still at home this week, helping to take out the trash or buy food in the marketplace. He contributes to the family income and helps with dinner. It’s just like in our families. What would it be like if we did our ordinary things with Him?

Our families, by grace, can have the same gratitude and praise that I heard in a moment of prayer. Every person in the family can feel connected. We can be of one mind and heart as the Holy Family, a model of the Trinity.