The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
The account of the boy Jesus being lost and then found three days later in the Temple is the only scene of Jesus’ childhood reported in any of the Gospels. Now twelve years old, Jesus is old enough to enter the Court of Israelites. For the first time, he will be permitted into the area where the respected teachers of the Law convene to discuss the Scriptures. So much insight can be gathered just by reflecting on how Mary and Joseph can lose their boy at this time.
This must have been a trying experience for Mary, and it foreshadows another time when she would be separated from her son: at his death on Good Friday.
The Holy Family was returning from their annual journey to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. This is one of the most important yearly feasts, and Jews from all over the ancient world would travel to Jerusalem to celebrate.
It is easy to wonder today how Mary and Joseph could leave their son behind in the big city of Jerusalem. What does this story story tell us that might shed light on how these holy and responsible parents could lose their child so easily?
When Mary finally finds her son three days later, she asks why Jesus has treated his parents this way. But Jesus replies, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49) The Scriptures say that Mary did not understand this response from her son, but “kept all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51)
Mary’s example here can teach us about how to respond when we do not understand why God allows us to experience moments of trial, uncertainty, or darkness. God may be trying to teach us through these difficulties.
Mary’s experience of losing Jesus is one we might experience in our spiritual lives. We face trials that cause us anxiety. Prayer becomes dry. We wonder why these troubles have come upon us. We seek God and wonder where God is in our lives. Jesus may seem lost and far away, but in reality, he is doing the will of the Father in the temples of our souls.
Why do you think God sometimes seems distant? What does Mary’s experience of losing Jesus teach you about what God is doing in these moments and how you might respond?
This is the fifth part of a series that follows the biblical story of Mary throughout May. To honor her during her month, we are diving deeper into eight key mysteries of the Rosary offering reflections on the Blessed Mother’s role through the Gospels and New Testament. Need to catch up? You can find the other parts of the series here.