Today’s Gospel haunts me. It is the story of Joseph and Mary searching for Jesus for days before finding Him in the Temple. I love the humanity of this whole story. When Mary lay her eyes on the boy Jesus, she fussed at Him and told Him how much anxiety He caused His parents. Jesus, being (fully human and) Fully Divine did not understand his mother’s stress. He thought that she should know where He must be – in His Father’s house. And yet, He readily obeyed His parents out of respect and love for them. What a perfect child!! What a dream!
Whenever I have difficulties parenting, I run to Mother Mary for prayers and guidance. She truly understands the worries and the heartaches of parenting, perhaps better than anyone else in the universe. She and Joseph had the ultimate responsibility of parenting not just any kid, but the Son of God. Whoa!
I can so empathize with Mary and Joseph in today’s gospel. Once, my husband and I lost our son for about ten minutes. It seemed to be an excruciatingly long period of time. It happened at Disney World where we were vacationing with extended family. We were in Epcot getting situated for the evening lazer light show in the lagoon. Throngs of people swept past us. My son’s uncle had treated him to a hand held, spinning, light-up trinket to enjoy as dusk approached. As we walked in a group, my son was mesmerized by his toy. Another woman in the crowd had a green backpack across her back, just as I had that day. While focusing on the captivating toy, my son followed the other woman with the backpack thinking that it was me. A few moments later, he looked up and realized that the woman was not his mom. By then he was already in another world (in Epcot’s world showcase). My son went up to a person in a Disney uniform, and the park employee stayed with him until he was found.
Quickly, we realized that we were missing our nine-year old. We split up looking for him. I was told to stay where I was in case he came back to that spot. Standing there alone, frantically scanning the crowds again and again, I felt so helpless. I prayed harder, perhaps, than I had in my whole life. The moments seemed to creep by in slow motion. My heart-felt as though it were bleeding out within my chest. A few minutes later, I could see my brother-in-law approaching in the distance. As he got closer, I saw my precious son attached to his left hand, head bobbing up and down. I ran up and threw my arms around him. I have never felt so relieved and thankful in my whole life. It’s an experience that I never want to relive. It gave me tremendous empathy for parents of missing children, and reminded me to pray for them. It was a moment that also gave me a connection to Mother Mary, as she had experienced the very same agony with Jesus. Today we honor her in this feast of her Immaculate Heart! Oh pure heart of Mary, please pray for us!
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart. Luke 2:41-51