The Gospel reading for the Feast of the Holy Family is taken from the second chapter of St. Luke's Gospel (Luke 2:41-52). Some traditions hold that St. Luke met Mary, Jesus' mother and heard directly from her some of the incidents in Jesus's early life. He is the evangelist who tells us the stories of the Annunciation and Visitation and other incidents which could have been known only to her.
From such a distance, we can neither prove or disprove this idea but today's Gospel and the comment that "his mother stored all these things in her heart" does hint that someone had spoken to her of the things she remembered and had reflected on during Jesus' early life.
Most of Jesus' childhood is shrouded in mystery, but today's Gospel brings us to Jesus on the threshold of manhood. His upbringing has obviously been deeply religious for he and his family have gone on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There, he is powerfully attracted to the scholars who study the Law and has become so engrossed in the discussions that he failed to notice that his family have left with the rest of their party. The moment of realizing that Jesus was not among the group and could not be found would be an incident hat would sear itself onto any parent's soul - and it is little wonder Mary never forgot it! It is made all the more memorable by the manner in which she finds her son and, as any mother would, ask him what he thought he was up to causing all this worry for her and his father? His response must have confounded her, her presumably up-until-that-point obedient son suggests that he had another Father and a great mission than carpentry in Nazareth.
Something had changed - and Mary knew it. Suddenly, perhaps, the angel's message and Simeon's prophecy began to cause more disquiet. For the first time, Mary felt the prick of the sword that was to pierce her heart. Jesus, however, was still a child and returned with his family to Nazareth to learn and take over his earthly father's trade. Some people may have used it to embarrass Jesus on future pilgrimages "Don't get lost now!" - but for Mary, its implications were too raw. She needed to hold it in the silence of her own heart and try to work out just who her was and what "the sword piercing her heart" might mean in relation to him.
[Source: Pamphlet: December 28, 2008, St. Paul's Cathedral Parish, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.]