Luke 2: 41 – 52
Every year Jesus’ parents travelled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up as they always did for the Feast. When it was over and they left for home, the child Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents didn’t know it. Thinking he was somewhere in the company of pilgrims, they journeyed for a whole day and then began looking for him among relatives and neighbours. When they didn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for him.
The next day they found him in the Temple seated among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. The teachers were all quite taken with him, impressed with the sharpness of his answers. But his parents were not impressed; they were upset and hurt.
His mother said, “Young man, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been half out of our minds looking for you.”
He said, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?” But they had no idea what he was talking about.
So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.
There is something very reassuring about Luke’s Holy Family. For him, the most important element was not the ‘holy’ but the ‘family’. What made Jesus the man he grew to be was not an environment of closeted privilege but the sacramental ordinariness of peasant life. The lineage back to David that includes so many ‘black sheep’ that few would admit to it; the young woman – perhaps a second wife; a home in the Galilee surrounded by extended family; a life of habit and tradition – the presentation in the Temple; the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
But as the saying goes; everyone is ordinary until you get to know them. Thanks to the time Luke spent with Mary, we have these anecdotes that may have suggested something more. The meeting between Elizabeth and Mary; the Presentation in the Temple and then this memory of ‘the first time we thought we had lost him’. Moments any mother would hold in her heart and that time would lend meaning to.
How many of us have shared similar stories over the past few days in family get-togethers? Stories of signs and adventures; dares and disasters that all feed into the people that we become – the ones most likely to… and the ones who never did…And the parents and family who love us unwaveringly despite it all. We should not look at Mary, Joseph and Jesus with envy or a sense of inferiority – black sheep or otherwise we have been adopted – we are all family – we are all holy.