When we adore the baby Jesus swaddled by the Mother of God, we often forget that he would someday preach these words: “a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Hardly expected from the sweet little Jesus boy. It is not clear how Jesus regarded the traditional family unit, whether he intended to re-structure the age old process of 9months, baby, born into a family, dropped into a million unwanted issues with a face and nose given without consultation. You inherit a million strengths from your culture and the family of birth and a thousand stereotypes just for getting a certain color skin. He probably was not talking about all that.
We know that Jesus broke the mold of family expectations, the eldest son leaving his family duties for at least three years. And we know that he was born into a carpenter family from a peasant girl in an unusual circumstance. And all the while a refugee in Egypt, he rooted for nourishment at his mother’s breast, he slowly found his hands and feet, and he learned the cycle of hunger and thirst. When he returned to live in his grandparent’s village, he bled from knees and elbows and tasted the familiar contours of unleavened bread as the candles danced to the Friday night worship of God. We have no reason to believe that Jesus did not rejoice for the families, which sheltered the children who he held and blessed. But we do know that he will call all of his followers to both wisely embrace and detach themselves from the culture, family, and society in which they were born.