By the time Jesus turns twelve, Mary and Joseph have carved out life-as-usual routines and traditions for their household, including the annual Passover pilgrimage from Nazareth to Jerusalem and back again. Jesus travels with his extended family “every year,” going “up as usual for the festival,” and returning home together.
But this year, without his parents’ knowledge, Jesus stays in Jerusalem after the festival instead of going home. A whole travel day passes before Mary and Joseph discover their son is missing. Immediately they retrace their steps to Jerusalem. Three anxious days later, they find Jesus in a place they never thought to look—“in the temple, sitting among the teachers,” amazing everyone with his unsettling maturity of presence and understanding.
Mary and Joseph are also astonished and unsettled, but for different reasons. Their twelve-year-old son is not where he’s supposed to be. From their perspective, Jesus, perhaps for the first time in his life, has disobeyed his parents. Mary interrupts the teachers by confronting her son: “Why have you treated us like this?” Knowing already that his answer will not be understood, Jesus replies that he ”must be about my Father’s business” (kjv). Jesus tells his mother that he is home, just not where she expected him to be.
For the rest of his life, Jesus continued to surprise, even disappoint, people by being where they thought he should not be. Jesus continues to be about his Father’s business, spending time with the poor and the forgotten of our day. If we are seeking him, that’s where we’ll find him.
Holy Jesus, may I search for you unceasingly. Remind me every day to turn to you and to trust that I will find you and you will find me even in uncertain and unlikely places. Amen.
The boy Samuel worshiped and served God from a young age. He grows in stature and favor, the same description that will later be applied to the young Jesus in this week’s reading from Luke. The psalmist praises God for raising up a “horn” for the people. This “horn” is referred to elsewhere in the Psalms as being the True King from the line of David, identified later by Luke (1:69) as Jesus. Paul encourages the Colossians to let love rule in their community and to praise God with songs and hymns (such as the Psalms). The additional readings for this special week focus our minds on the Advent of the Lord, the amazing truth that “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14), as the prophets had prophesied long ago.
• Read Isaiah 9:2-7. Where in your world do you see darkness? What lies within your power to dispel it?
• Read Psalm 148. How have you witnessed creation praising the Creator?
• Read Colossians 3:12-17. With what qualities from this list do you clothe yourself daily?
• Read Luke 2:41-52. When has a not-as-usual occurrence generated anxiety in your life? How was it resolved?
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