Friday, October 29, 2010

Teaching in the Temple

I was reading early this morning about the life of St. Joseph. I came to the point where Joseph and Mary take Jesus to Jerusalem, to celebrate the feast of the Passover. He is only 12 years old, but he’s going to show his parents on this trip that he is now a man. When they leave to return home with a group of friends and family, Jesus chooses to stay behind.

It took Joseph and Mary a day to figure out that Jesus was missing. They were concerned, and went back to Jerusalem to find him. They looked for three days before they found him in the temple:

“Son, why have you done this to us? Behold your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” This is the first and only time that we see Mary asking Jesus a question --- asking Him why He acted as He did. Jesus’ reply remains a great mystery: “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s affairs?” But, adds Luke, “they did not understand the saying which He spoke to them.”

(Jesus) is not reproaching them. He is calling them to rise above their present state by placing a new demand before them, by asking a new poverty of them. Here is the first time Jesus looks upon His parents and speaks to them as a Priest, as the One sent by the Father. A new stage has begun in His life; His parents are to understand this, and this is why they should no longer look at Him as a child: He is now wholly given over to His Father’s affairs.

The Mystery of Joseph, by Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, OP

Joseph and Mary, used to knowing, understanding, and leading Jesus in their ways, are now told things have changed. He must be about His Father’s business. Don’t you understand, He asks. Luke notes: No, they didn’t.

How much is our relationship with Jesus today, like that of Joseph and Mary? He’s told us very clearly what His life is about, serving the Father’s will, but we don’t understand. We pray to Him: “Here’s what we want You to do.” What WE want.

Isn’t it time we grew up in our relationship with Jesus and the Father? Jesus did not come here, as a part of our lives, to do OUR will. We may think we are telling Him our needs when we pray, but He is the teacher. He went to the temple to “teach the teachers” (!!) We’re not telling Him anything through our prayers; He already knows our needs. We can’t teach Him anything; if we listen, He can teach us.

Jesus tells His anxious parents in the temple: “Look, I’ve grown up. I came here to teach, and now I must be about my Father’s business.” From here on, even Joseph and Mary were to learn from Him, not tell Him things anymore. But “they did not understand.”

It’s now 2000 years later, and we’re still trying to tell Him things --- and we’re still anxious. And we still don’t understand.

He told Joseph and Mary --- and us: “Do not be anxious. I came to do the Father’s will.” Later He said: “I will always be with you.” So He has told us: Do not be anxious. He, with us, and now WE are to do the Father’s will. In the temple, He started teaching --- He still does; He teaches us every day in the temple of our bodies.

If you can stop being anxious, you will hear Him. He is asking you to be about His Father’s will, too. We’ve got work to do with our lives. Not our silly worries and plans, but His. We need to get started.


  1. Love the example of Joseph and Mary not understanding-great perspective!

    I think that book reviews would be awesome! I read quite a lot as well, I had kept a list of them all for a while until my computer crashed and I lost it all. Can't wait to read about what you read about!

  2. I imagine that fact reviews would be awing! I construe quite a lot as excavation, I had kept a listing of them all for a time until my computer crashed and I straying it all. Can't move to construe around what you translate about.
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  3. Hmmm. Well, I guess I can say that I am sorry about the data lost when your computers crashed.

    Anne, email me if you would like some book listings.