Dear Followers of Jesus,
Today’s gospel, Luke 2:41-52, illustrates a parent’s worst fear, a missing child. With much miscommunication, Jesus stayed behind to preach in the Temple without the knowledge of his parents, Mary and Joseph. We can all imagine the fear that ran through the minds and bodies of Mary and Joseph searching diligently for Jesus in the caravan.
Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the Temple. Jesus does not seem concerned that his parents were frantic. This gospel begins to outline his death and resurrection, even though he is still a youth. First, he is lost and then his parents find him after three days. This refers to his passion, death and resurrection. After three days, he becomes a new person. We see this visibly in the Temple, where he is preaching and answering questions. In other words, his real identity emerges, his place among the leaders of faith. He was lost but now is found among those whom hear his message of peace.
How ironic that we are celebrating the Incarnation during the Christmas season and today the real presence of Jesus is already lost. Jesus asks his parents, “Why are you looking for me?” Jesus assumes that his parents would know that he is in the Temple, doing the work of the Father. I want to hold on to Jesus asking me this question because so often I do not fully understand myself why I search for him.
We need to be honest about why we search for the Christ, the person of Jesus. We cannot live the mystery of our lives apart from Jesus. He is our hope when we are lost, when we get caught in personal sin, heartache and ill will. He is our direction when we believe we have all the answers, when we are confident that we can do life on our own. Jesus is our creative life even when we feel lost in our jobs or unimportant in our families. Jesus is the place we rest when we are tired and emptied from beating ourselves up when things just do not go the way we planned.
I wonder how we would answer the question Jesus poses to his parents? I desire with all my heart to find my way to his side, to his creative love for our world and for me. This Christmas season is just another step in our awkward search for Jesus, of being lost and found. Yet, Jesus makes a home within us. We already have what we desire, the love God has for each of us. Christmas is creating a home within our hearts to find that Jesus is not lost, but living among us today in all that we do.
The gospel tells us that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, held all these things in her heart. She pondered the mystery of his sorrows as well as his goodness. I hold on to the life of Jesus in this Christmas season within my heart, as I know we all long to do. For the mystery of the Incarnation is continuing to teach us how to love and how to live together.
Text: Ronald Raab, CSC