The Hidden Life

I can’t help but feel a bit deflated at this time of year.  After the anticipation of Christmas and the flurry of gift wrapping, baking, decorating, and checking things off of numerous to-do lists, I suddenly find myself surrounded by the laundry and dishes of every day life with no routine for accomplishing what needs to be done.

The joy of the Christmas season is in my heart, but the physical work of a mother and housewife is in my hands, its ordinary monotony contrasting sharply with the festivities of the past several days.  It takes effort to return to the routine of daily family life–to once again find the rhythm that keeps our household functioning and thriving.

As I was folding laundry on the eve of the feast of the Holy Family, my thoughts turned to Mary and how her life took shape after the birth of Jesus.  She, too, had to establish her household routine after the excitement of that first Christmas was over.  She, too, found herself washing clothes, cooking meals, and changing diapers after the event of the birth had passed and the visitors had all returned home.  Perhaps she, too, even had moments in which she thought, “Is this all there is?  Is this my life now?  Washing and cooking and cleaning, hour after hour and day after day?”

Holy Family by Juan Simon Gutierrez

Holy Family by Juan Simon Gutierrez

But she carried on in faith, fulfilling the role God gave her alongside her spouse who did the same–because they knew.  They knew it was God’s will that they fulfill the most insignificant aspects of their vocations to the best of their abilities.  They knew they were a piece of the puzzle of God’s plan to show the world how much He loves us.  They knew their example during the hidden years of their family life was just as important as the public ministry that their Son would one day step into.

The Son of God spent thirty years focused on living with His earthly parents as a Holy Family–thirty years focused on obeying His parents, doing His chores, and assisting His father as a carpenter.  Thirty years of showing the world that it isn’t the specific accomplishments that people can see, but the way in which you direct your heart in the midst of a humble life that makes you great in the eyes of God.

“The family is . . . a school which enables men and women to grow to the full measure of their humanity . . .”  Pope Benedict XVI

Jesus grew to the full measure of His humanity in a humble home with Joseph and Mary by His side.  He demonstrated perfect holiness before He ever performed a public miracle.  He told His heavenly Father, “Thy will be done” long before kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He helped others by the work of His human hands and lived the beauty of self-donative love with His family every day in preparation for the Cross.

So, too, do we have the opportunity to grow in holiness by persevering through the daily routines of family life and living them as an answer to God’s beckoning–a beckoning to faithfully perform each of our daily duties for the saints He knows our children can be–a beckoning to imitate Mary as she so perfectly united her marriage to God and surrendered her motherhood to His will–a beckoning to recognize miracles in the mundane and joy in that which no one else can see.


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