Rosary – Joyful Mystery #5: The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple

My first choice for this exercise, because my mind draws a blank on it every time.  What am I supposed to be thinking again?  If anyone has any good verses or quotes, let me know.

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.  Luke 2:41-52 

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),  “that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:1-4 

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.  Exodus 20:12 

During the greater part of his life Jesus shared the condition of the vast majority of human beings: a daily life spent without evident greatness, a life of manual labor. His religious life was that of a Jew obedient to the law of God, a life in the community. From this whole period it is revealed to us that Jesus was “obedient” to his parents and that he “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.”  Jesus’ obedience to his mother and legal father fulfills the fourth commandment perfectly and was the temporal image of his filial obedience to his Father in heaven.  The everyday obedience of Jesus to Joseph and Mary both announced and anticipated the obedience of Holy Thursday:  “Not my will. . .” The obedience of Christ in the daily routine of his hidden life was already inaugurating his work of restoring what the disobedience of Adam had destroyed.  The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life: The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus – the school of the Gospel.  First, then, a lesson of silence.  May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us. . . A lesson on family life.  May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character. . . A lesson of work.  Nazareth, home of the “Carpenter’s Son”, in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work. . . To conclude, I want to greet all the workers of the world, holding up to them their great pattern their brother who is God.  The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus.  Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s work?” Mary and Joseph did not understand these words, but they accepted them in faith.  Mary “kept all these things in her heart” during the years Jesus remained hidden in the silence of an ordinary life.  CCC 531-534 

Like the prophets before him Jesus expressed the deepest respect for the Temple in Jerusalem. It was in the Temple that Joseph and Mary presented him forty days after his birth. At the age of twelve he decided to remain in the Temple to remind his parents that he must be about his Father’s business. He went there each year during his hidden life at least for Passover. His public ministry itself was patterned by his pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts. Jesus went up to the Temple as the privileged place of encounter with God. For him, the Temple was the dwelling of his Father, a house of prayer.  CCC 583-584 

Christ is the true temple of God, “the place where his glory dwells”; by the grace of God, Christians also become the temples of the Holy Spirit, living stones out of which the Church is built.  CCC 1197 

The Son of God who became Son of the Virgin also learned to pray according to his human heart. He learns the formulas of prayer from his mother, who kept in her heart and meditated upon all the “great things” done by the Almighty. He learns to pray in the words and rhythms of the prayer of his people, in the synagogue at Nazareth and the Temple at Jerusalem. But his prayer springs from an otherwise secret source, as he intimates at the age of twelve: “I must be in my Father’s house.” Here the newness of prayer in the fullness of time begins to be revealed: his filial prayer, which the Father awaits from his children, is finally going to be lived out by the only Son in his humanity, with and for men.  CCC 2599 

Let us begin with that episode of Our Lord’s twelfth year, told in St. Luke’s second chapter, when His parents, returning from Jerusalem, find that He is not with them, search for Him for three days, and find him at last in the Temple asking the doctors questions and proposing solutions at which the doctors marvel.  Our Lady said to Him, “My Son, why hast thou treated us so?  Think what anguish of mind thy father and I have endured, searching for thee.”  He answered, “What reason had you to search for me?  Could you not tell that I must needs be in the place which belongs to my Father?”  The answer, coming from a boy of twelve to a mother who has had three days of anguish through his action, is startling.  Here is remoteness to the point of bleakness.  No word of regret or sympathy.  We need not be surprised that we are puzzled, for so were Mary and Joseph.  These words which He spoke to them were beyond their understanding.  In any event, the strange episode came to its close.  He went back with them to Nazareth.  But “His mother kept in her heart the memory of all this.”  Remember how Simeon had said that a sword should pierce her heart; these words of her Son, kept in her heart and pondered, may have been part of the turning of the sword.

Examine them closely.  Her question to Christ is “My Son, hast thou treated us so?”  What exactly had He done to them?  Gone away from them.  It seems possible that this cry of Our Lady is an echo long in advance of a more famous cry yet to be uttered: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”  What she cries to her Son in her anguish is so very close to what He cries to His Father in His anguish.  So theologians have seen it, and seen it not as mere chance, but as part of the very design of our redemption.

In the natural order, one imagines that Christ must have been like His mother – this was one infant, at least, about Whom no queston could arise as to which parent He resembled; and she found it, probably, as much of a delight as most mothers find it, that her Son was like her.  But that remains in the natural order.  In the supernatural order her supreme glory is that she was like her Son.  That she was like Him is for any Catholic a commonplace, yet we may miss certain important elements in the likeness.  He was sinless and the Man of Sorrows.  She was sinless and we think of her most naturally as the Mother of Sorrows.  From the moment of her Son’s birth, almost all that we know of her is shot through wth grief – the flight into Egypt to save her Child from murder, the knowledge of the other mother’s children massacred by Herod, the three days’ loss of Christ when He was twelve, His death while she stood by the cross.  He suffered; she suffered; but the analysis we have just made of that strange episode in the Temple points to a relation between her suffering and His that we might otherwise have failed to see.  Her suffering was related to His, but it was not merely her reaction to His, it was hers.  She suffered not simply with Him, as any mother must suffer in the suffering of her son, but in her own right.  Before He experienced His desolation, she experienced her desolation.  He had His Passion, but she had her passion too.  And while His accomplished everything, hers was not for nothing.  It was part of the design of the Redemption that while the Divine Person suffered the Passion that redeemeed us, a human person should suffer a passion parallel with His.

There is almost impenetrable darkness here, but St. Paul helps us to penetrate it a little: “I am glad of my sufferings on your behalf, as, in this mortal frame of mine, I help to pay off the debt which the afflictions of Christ still leave to be paid, for the sake of His body, the Church.” The Douay Version has: “I fill up those things that are wanting of the suffering of Christ, in my flesh, for His body which is the Church” (Col 1:24).  In either translation the words are startling and at first almost stunning.  Frank Sheed, Theology and Sanity


~ by Rob on January 13, 2010.

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