The Story in Brief
Every year, the Holy Family traveled to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. When Jesus was twelve years old, the family went as usual, but this time, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem when the rest of the company started for home. His parents, thinking He was with relatives or friends, didn't realize He was missing until they had journeyed for a day. Then they hurried back to look for their Son. After three days, they found Him in the Temple conversing with the teachers. Everyone was amazed at Jesus' answers and understanding. His mother asked Him why He had treated His parents so; they had been searching for Him with great anxiety. Jesus answered, “Why were you searching for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father's house?” But He returned to Nazareth with His parents and was obedient to them.
Points to Ponder
1. Once again, the Holy Family made a point of following the Jewish Law. They even went beyond the letter of the Law because the whole family traveled to Jerusalem to observe the feast of Passover. Only adult males were required to go. What does this tell us about the Holy Family?
2. Reflect on the symbolism of Passover and how it was transformed by Jesus, Who is the new Lamb and the new Passover sacrifice.
3. Think about how the Jerusalem Temple was the center of Jewish worship. Why was the Temple so important to the Jewish people, including the Holy Family?
4. This mystery stresses the theme of proper worship. God has ordained specific ways for people to worship Him. These are not optional, and they are meant for humankind's well-being. For the Jewish people, God required certain feasts and sacrifices as well as travel to Jerusalem at various times during the year. God requires Catholic Christians to assist at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. Ponder these truths.
5. In Jewish Law, boys reach adulthood at age twelve, so the twelve-year-old Jesus was a man able to take responsibility for His own actions. How did Jesus' age and status affect His actions?
7. Reflect on Mary and Joseph's fear. Any parent who loses a child, even for a little while, is terrified, but Mary and Joseph's anxiety was probably much greater because they knew Who their Child was – the Messiah.
8. Why did Jesus stay behind? Was He ready to begin His mission immediately? Was He acting prophetically? Was His motivation something else entirely or a combination of many things?
9. Ponder what it means to lose Jesus and search for Him.
10. Reflect on Mary and Joseph's search for Jesus. It was an orderly search. They checked with friends and relatives first. Then they went back to Jerusalem and finally to the Temple. Is there a metaphor here for people's journey to God?
11. Jesus was missing three days. Reflect on the significance of this.
12. In the Temple, Jesus was carrying on a dialogue with the teachers. He was listening and asking questions and answering their questions. Meditate on this dialogue. What was Jesus teaching? Why doesn't the Gospel include it word for word?
13. Think about how prayer and study ought to be a dialogue with God.
14. Everyone who heard Jesus was amazed at His answers and understanding. Imagine their reactions to the teaching of this twelve-year-old Boy.
15. Why were Mary and Joseph astonished by Jesus' speech? He was their Son, so they knew Him well, and they must have remembered all that had happened at His birth. Why were they surprised?
16. Consider Mary's gentle rebuke. She was still a mother. She was a bit hurt and had been very anxious.
17. Think about Jesus' answer to Mary. How was it a gentle reminder of Who He was and what He had come to do?
18. Jesus said that He had to be in His Father's house. In an alternate translation, Jesus said that He had to be about His Father's business. What did Jesus mean? How do these two translations bring out different aspects of Jesus' words?
19. Why didn't Jesus' parents understand Him?
20. Jesus left Jerusalem with Mary and Joseph, went back to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. God-made-Man submitted with great humility to His human parents. Ponder this.
21. Reflect on how Mary treasured all these things in her heart. She pondered the events, knowing that God was active in her life and speaking to her through each and every incident. She “mined” meaning from everything that happened and searched untiringly for God's message.
22. Ponder how Jesus grew. He increased in wisdom and age. He was fully Man as well as fully God. He had a human soul and a human will as well as a human body. In His divine nature, He did not change, but in His human nature, He did. Think carefully about this great mystery of God made Man.
1. How do you worship the Lord? Do you understand the importance of formal, ritualized worship? Do you attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days? Are you focused or distracted at Mass? How might you pray better and be more attentive at Mass?
2. Have you ever experienced the fear of losing a child, even for a short time? How did you respond?
3. Have you ever lost Jesus? What does it feel like to lose Him?
4. How do you search for Jesus? What does it feel like to find Him?
5. How does Jesus carry on a dialogue with You? Is your prayer and study a dialogue with God?
6. How do you listen to God?
7. How does He question You?
8. What kinds of questions do you ask God? How does He answer?
9. Are you amazed by Jesus? What amazes you the most?
10. How are you going about your Father's business?
11. Do you always understand what Jesus tells you? What do you do when you don't understand?
12. Do you look for deeper meanings in the events of your life? Do you see how God is working through them? Do you treasure even small things because God is directing them and speaking to you through them? Can you think of some events in your life that turned out to be much more meaningful than you realized at first?
Prayer, Prayer, and More Prayer
Blessing and adoration – Dearest Jesus, we kneel before You in silent adoration, blessing You for Your wisdom and love. We pour out our hearts to You in worship, Jesus, our God, with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Praise – Jesus, You are amazing! And we are amazed by Your teaching, by Your wisdom, and by the answers You give us when we pray to You. Your words are simple yet sublime, and we praise You for each and every one of them. May they sink deeply into our hearts and minds, Lord Jesus.
Thanksgiving – Dearest Jesus, we thank You for all the opportunities You give us for prayer and study. We thank You for dialoguing with us. We thank You for giving us an example of humility and obedience. We thank You for showing us, Lord, that if we seek You, we will always find You, and when we do find You, we will be with You in Your Father's house and about Your Father's business.
Intercession – Lord, we lift up to You all children who are separated from their parents and loved ones. Please bring them home safely. We lift up to You all parents who are desperately seeking missing children. Please give them strength, courage, and perseverance, and please comfort them in their time of anxiety and sorrow.
Petition – Jesus, help us to search for You and always find You. Help us to pray and worship in the ways You ordain for us, in the ways that are pleasing to You. Help us to ponder all Your words and actions in our hearts, to treasure them and make them part of our very being. Help us to see the deep meanings in the events of our lives.
Quotes from the Saints
“Now that the Lord came up every year to Jerusalem at the Passover, betokens His humility as a man, for it is, man's duty to meet together to offer sacrifices to God, and conciliate Him with prayers. Accordingly the Lord as man, did among men what God by angels commended c men to do. Hence it is said, According to the custom of the feast day. Let us follow then the journey of His mortal life, if we delight to behold the glory of His divine nature.” - Theophyl
“He is not found as soon as sought for, for Jesus was not among His kinsfolk and relations, among those who are joined to Him in the flesh, nor in the company of the multitude can He be found. Learn where those who seek Him find Him, not every where, but in the temple. And do you then seek Jesus in the temple of God. Seek Him in the Church, and seek Him among the masters who are in the temple. For if you wilt so seek Him, you shall find Him. They found Him not among His kinsfolk, for human relations could not comprehend the Son of God; not among His acquaintance, for He passes far beyond all human knowledge and understanding. Where then do they find Him? In the temple! If at any time you seek the Son of God, seek Him first in the temple, thither go up, and verily shall you find Christ, the Word, and the Wisdom, (i.e. the Son of God.)” - Origen
“After three days He is found in the temple, that it might be for a sign, that after three days of victorious suffering, He who was believed to be dead should rise again anti manifest Himself to our faith, seated in heaven with divine glory.” - St. Ambrose
“Because moreover He was the Son of God, He is found in the midst of the doctors, enlightening and instructing them. But because He was a little child, He is found among them not teaching but asking questions, as it is said, Sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And this He did as a duty of reverence, that He might set us an example of the proper behavior of children, though they be wise and learned, rather to hear their masters than teach them, and not to vaunt themselves with empty boasting. But He asked not that He might learn, but that asking He might instruct.” - Origen
“To show that He was a man, He humbly listened to the masters; but to prove that He was God, He divinely answered those who spoke.” - Theophyl
“But from His very first years being obedient to His parents, He endured all bodily labors, humbly and reverently. For since His parents were honest and just, yet at the same time poor, and ill supplied with the necessaries of life, (as the stable which administered to the holy birth bears witness,) it is plain that they continually underwent bodily fatigue in providing for their daily wants. But Jesus being obedient to them, as the Scriptures testify, even in sustaining labors, submitted Himself to a complete subjection.” - St. Basil
“The Virgin, whether she understood or whether she could not yet understand, equally laid up all things in her heart for reflection and diligent examination. Hence it follows, And, his mother laid up all these things, etc. Mark the wisest of mothers, Mary the mother of true wisdom, becomes the scholar or disciple of the Child. For she yielded to Him not as to a boy, nor as to a man, but as unto God. Further, she pondered upon both His divine words and works, so that nothing that was said or done by Him was lost upon her, but as the Word itself was before in her womb, so now she conceived the ways and words of the same, and in a manner nursed them in her heart. And while indeed she thought upon one thing at the time, another she wanted to be more clearly revealed to her; and this was her constant rule and law through her whole life.” - Theophyl