The passage for the feast beautifully describes the love and obedience the Holy Family has for each other and for God. We see how Mary and Joseph care for Jesus and a glimpse at how they raised Him.
“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” (2:41).
Joseph was a proud father and took seriously the task and obligation to educate his child in the faith. As they journeyed towards the city, he no doubt took great care to explain to Jesus every nuance of the tradition, why they celebrated, how to celebrate it, and the importance of it. For sure, at this tender age, the shadow of the cross fell over the youth. The feast of the Passover would be central to Christ’s earthly mission. It perhaps explains why Our Lord stayed behind while the family started the trek home. He wanted to learn more from the teachers in the temple, asking questions, putting the pieces together, and slowly deciphering the will of the Father.
While Jesus grew in knowledge and wisdom in the temple, the caravan was already a day’s journey back home. The anguish and anxiety of Mary and Joseph is palpable when they realize their child is not with the caravan. Their imagination no doubt runs wild with the possibilities that have fallen on their child. In haste, they return and spend the next three days in search of Him. We know the feeling well when we lose anything important if even for a split second. They search everywhere – family, friends, alleys, streets, houses of complete strangers. No one has seen Him. Finally, they approach the temple. Relief overwhelms them as they see their son sitting safely with the teachers. They do not waste time approaching Him, taking Him aside. Mary does not yell, scream or hit the child. She asks a simple question and explains what they have been going through,
“Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
It is not unusual that they did not understand his response. Children do the darnedest things that vex parents (even if they happen to be God). Nonetheless, Jesus remains obedient to his parents and comes home and “was obedient to them”, while “his mother kept all these things in her heart”.
We often stray from the narrow path of faith and obedience on life’s journey to eternal life — lost amid the noise and distractions every day. On occasion we seek peace, penance, simplicity, or just Jesus to walk with us on the way. He tells us quite simply where we can find Him if all else fails. He is living in His Father’s House in the blessed sacrament. Perhaps this search for peace fills us with anxiety. Mary and Joseph understand. They can walk with us and help us find Him who brings us peace and understanding. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, be with us on our journey.