Dean of Identity | Mr Charles Brauer
They stood proudly with broad smiles on their faces, excited with the prospect of transitioning to a new stage of the Terrace Journey. It is in this manner that our Year 6 students encircled their family and teachers gathered in The Chapel of the Holy Family to celebrate through mass their transition into middle schooling. The notion of family strongly resonated at this celebration. The approaching season of Advent and the growing hope and joy of Christmas provides us with an opportune moment to reflect on the concept of family, particularly the Holy Family.
Dr Jill Gowdie, past parent and current leader of the Identity, Mission and Religious Education Services Team for Brisbane Catholic Education, articulates wonderfully the truer nature of the Holy Family, the family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. In her recent article “The Getting of Wisdom”, Dr Gowdie highlights an ‘understanding of the Holy Family as the image of perfection, of harmony and gentle love’. However, from further historical and theological research we are growing to understand that the family in which Jesus grew up was far from perfect. Dr Gowdie presented a more authentic version of Jesus’ family:
The harsh reality is that Jesus was born to poor, homeless parents 100 miles from their town. His mother Mary knew what it was to be a young adolescent girl and pregnant, betrothed to an older man - who was not the father of the child. Joseph knew what it was to be the focus of gossip and doubtful regard for his ongoing family and social standing.
Our Terrace Family certainly is wonderful and like any family, including the Holy Family, we experience struggles and work to acknowledge and accept our imperfections. As we support each other through difficulties and seek meaning together we become ‘holy’. We will tackle this concept at our End of Year Thanksgiving Liturgy, where we’ll focus on ‘giving’, and what it means to ‘give’ this Christmas.
As we get closer to Christmas, we see all around us a world filled with ‘things’ – material things – and we can easily forget the simple message that comes from the story of Christmas. As we gather tomorrow in the spirit of thanksgiving, we’ll be encouraged to recognise the importance of our families as a vehicle for right relationships that nourish our being in becoming more ‘holy’.
I truly hope the upcoming Advent season and anticipation of Christmas allows you and your family to experience Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. May the holiday period bless you and your family with these gifts.