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  • Josie Diebold

Shaped by Family

“The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:22). This is one of the small peeks we get into the life of Jesus after his birth and before the start of his ministry. I’ve read analyses about what his life likely consisted of as a youth, adolescent, and young adult. But today, I am sitting with Jesus not just as an individual, but as a person intimately interconnected with others. I am especially reflecting on Jesus as a member of a family (today being the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph). 


Our families are a core place where we are shaped; this is, our range of emotions, typical moods, ways of responding and reacting, our values and perspectives – these all are impacted, in part, by family (all credit on this to the learning I’ve received through generative somatics and The Embodiment Institute). In my young adulthood, I discovered other interesting, though silly, ways that family impacts us, like when I learned that not everyone refrigerates their bread. Who knew?


I know I can sometimes risk taking for granted that Jesus was born and then…33 years later, bam, he was ready to take on the political status quo and make revolutionary waves. Of course, we believe this is what he was fundamentally born for. Yet, I’m asserting that Jesus’ family played a key role in molding Jesus to take on the role he was destined for. 

I often cite my own family as an important place that has shaped me. For instance, about 7 years ago, my values led me, somewhat serendipitously, to the organization Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). SURJ works to organize white people into Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color-led movements for justice. I did not grow up in a family with parents who were community organizers or active in social movements. But I also did not get here without the impact of my family. It may be that my politics position me as the “radical” in my family now, but I did not just hit my late-20s and decide that I suddenly felt compelled to be part of a movement for racial justice. Those seeds were planted and nurtured in family. 


Of course, families can be of blood, of kin, of choice, and of love. Not all families we’re born into are places that inherently bring out our fullest selves. With an expansive and inclusive understanding of family, we understand ourselves, like Jesus, not as islands bumping into each other, but intimately interconnected people who impact and are impacted by one another.   


So, what if we did not only think of Jesus as the sole protagonist in the story of our faith, but rather, the Holy Family? What might it mean for our own faith, and what it looks like to translate faith into action, if we were to recognize our interconnectedness? how we shape and are shaped by one another?  



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