Homeschooling, salvation | Inquirer News

Homeschooling, salvation

/ 08:42 AM December 29, 2013

I never expected I would one day see a Nazareth. Maybe because for Christmas, most Catholics need from craftsmen Belens (Nativity scenes named after the Spanish word for Bethlehem), not Nazareths to set up in homes or in churches.

Our elaborate Belens took shape from the writings of Saints Matthew and Luke about the star, angels, visionary shepherds and sages that attended the humble birth of our Savior.

The gospel writers, however, painted the rest of the Holy Child’s infancy in broad strokes, leaving theologians, mystics, artists and the faithful with plenty of room to be creative in contemplating the specifics of His formative years.


The Holy Family, according to the gospel, fled to Egypt to protect Jesus from King Herod’s order of the massacre of all Bethlehem boys two years old and under. The king was hell-bent on erasing the possibility of losing his throne to the prophesied newborn king.


Herod’s son Archelaus inherited his power-lust and blood-thirst. So when Jesus, Mary and Joseph came home after three years in Egypt, they settled far from the madding Jerusalem, visiting it only on the feasts of the Passover.

They made their homestead in Nazareth.

I first saw a Nazareth on the shelf in a Saint Paul’s religious goods store. The figures were made of fiberglass and painted in pastel shades. The artist, to complete his work must have pictured a normal day in the life of the Holy Family:

Mary sat on the front porch, knitting while pigeons pecked at crumbs on the yard. From where she sat, she kept an eye on the carpenter’s shed where Joseph taught her boy-child how to use the saw and plane and other tools.

Nothing in the tableau suggested a power capable of saving mankind from sin and death. The members of the court of the Belen, at least, hinted at Jesus’ divine origin. Yet, in the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, Catholics invoke Christ’s sojourn in Nazareth: “By your Sacred Infancy, deliver us, O Jesus.”

Why? Because life at Nazareth was one of Jesus’ saving actions. It was part of God’s work of embracing and making sacred the family and our growing years. His immersion and growth within the fully human reality of Nazareth-elevated home-life to the realm of the holy.


In the Nazareth’s perfections, our Lord, fully God forever, learned to live as a fully human Savior.

Jesus taught us that God’s kingdom is like yeast that makes the dough rise. It is not hard to imagine Him remembering, as He preached, Mary preparing bread for the family.

Jesus also left us with the parable of the builder, whom He said must estimate the cost of a construction project so that he would not end up abandoning it and being the object of ridicule by critics. The figure of Joseph, the Savior’s foster father shines through in this parable.

In the poem, “My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold,” the Englishman William Wordsworth wrote, “The Child is father of the Man.” Mary knitted. The Nazarene commanded people to share their tunics and cloaks to those who have none. Joseph built. The Nazarene chose a rock on which to build His Church.

Most of us, too, learned and continue to learn to be fully human from the members of our families.

My father is remarkably sharp in remembering people’s birthdays. He is the most prolific card sender on his side of our clan. With Father as my model, I strive to be thoughtful to kith and kin who celebrate their special days and to the saints whose lives we celebrate in the calendar of the universal family called the Church.

Rumors circulating within our family’s sphere of influence die as soon as they reach my mother. This helps me sense the sting of conscience, remembering Mother’s virtue whenever I sit with those who talk about others behind their backs. This helps me exercise the discipline of verification in my work as a journalist.

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No family is perfect except the Holy Family of Nazareth which all others can emulate. Then, like the little Nazarene, we can learn how to carry out our mission in the school we call home, the learning nest we call family.

TAGS: column, opinion

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