Donald R. Elly, M. Div.
“Looking for Jesus” is how the Message describes the search of Mary and Joseph, the parents who have lost track of their son Jesus. They had traveled to Jerusalem. Now, we could judge Mary and Joseph for this failure, and some do. Today our Department of Human services might charge them with “neglect” or “child endangerment”. Rather than judging them, I want us to ponder the truth that they had no idea what they were looking for. What do I mean?
Could it be that as parents like us, they were looking for a twelve year old and thinking of him in those terms, were not ready for Jesus to grow up in faith? They may have thought that playing with his friends on the way home from the Temple festival, Jesus may have lost track of time as a twelve year might do.
Luke in describing Jesus’ response to his panicked parents illustrates the risk parents face when faith becomes real for children. Luke by contrasting the understanding of Mary and Joseph with that of Jesus asserts that Jesus is responding to the call of God, as his father and is no longer a little boy.
When did you first become aware that God has a purpose for your life that may be different than what your parents wish for you? Is this sense of purpose something you have struggled with and something that took time to mature? Who helped you become aware of your call?
In the book of 1st Samuel we learn that this call can come at any time. Samuel was able to respond because he had the direction and guidance of Eli, the Priest, whose own sons ironically have no vision of God or God’s values despite their father’s role as Priest in the temple. Mary and Joseph’s struggle is the tension all parents feel as their children seek to follow God as creator. Mary confronts Jesus, yet once again cherishes all that happens and is said in her heart.
Jesus claims God as his father yet follows God’s Commandment to honor parents. In this New Year give God thanks for your parents and their encouragement to grow in faith even as they struggled with the challenge your growth in faith presented to them.
December 30th, 2018; Cycle C; 1st Sunday after Christmas
1st Samuel 3: 1-10; Psalm 148; Col. 3: 12-17; Luke 2:41-52