Holy Family - Year C
Luke 2:41-52Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.
Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’ ‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied. ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant. He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with men. ReflectionLosing a child for three or four days would be any parent’s worst nightmare. Jesus had been to the Passover feast in Jerusalem in previous years so he knew his way around and obviously had some freedom. He was old enough to know that Mary and Joseph expected him to leave with the caravan, and would be frantic if they later could not find him. It is hard to believe that Jesus deliberately put his parents through such worry and anxiety. He may have been so totally absorbed in “his Father’s business” that he simply lost track of time and was unaware that the caravan had left. Jesus seemed to others in his home town to be like any other boy. He had wisdom beyond his years and seemed to be very intelligent, but he did the tasks of a child and lived the normal life of the village. But there must have been an interior life in this apparently normal boy which was anything but normal. Apart from his parents who could he talk to and question about the matters of faith which he found so absorbing? It seems that Jesus found in the doctors in the Temple the dialogue companions he had not encountered in his ordinary life in the village. He was free to question and converse about the things which really mattered for him, and the experience was so intense that time passed and the caravan departed as if it was part of another world. It is a great grace to have the opportunity to talk to others about matters of faith and belief in a way which is free and profound. We think we do this more often than we really do, because our “faith” conversations are often more about organizational matters to do with the Church, or about personal problems we are trying to resolve. Opportunities to talk with another about how God is working in our lives exist – but we can feel embarrassed about talking about our personal relationship with God with someone else. Why? Are we perhaps afraid that relationship is somehow odd or not up to scratch, or is childish in some way?Or does the culture we live in work against such personal faith sharing? Talking to another about Jesus Christ can be profoundly affirming if we recognize the opportunities when they arise and can overcome our shyness. Such a person may be present among our circle of friends but the opportunity can also be created by seeking out a spiritual director. They are not just for saints, but also for us ordinary people, future saints in the making. There are now many people trained and gifted as spiritual accompaniers, and we don’t have to have a problem in order to approach them. It is enough to want to talk about God with someone else who knew about him, as Jesus wanted to do in the Temple.