Jesus Lost in the Temple
1. The Gospel of St. Luke relates that when Jesus was twelve years of age He went with Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem to celebrate the Pasch. When the feast was over, Our Lady and St. Joseph set out on the return journey and, as was the custom, they went in separate caravans, one being for men and the other for women. Each believed that the Child Jesus was in the other group, but at the end of the first day's journey they failed to find Him in either. They were stricken with worry and sorrow and returned immediately to Jerusalem where they searched anxiously for Him. At last they found Him in the Temple. There He was carrying on a discussion in the midst of a gathering of doctors of the Law, who were amazed at the wisdom of His answers. When the Blessed Virgin gently reproved Him, Jesus replied: “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?” (Cf. Luke 2:41-51) After this He went back readily with them to Nazareth "and was subject to them." We have a great deal to learn from this chapter of the Gospel. Above all, let us learn the humility and mildness of Jesus, Who quietly replied, in answer to Mary's gentle reproach, that it was His special mission to look after the work of His Heavenly Father, for He owed obedience in the first place to God and then to men. (Cf. Acts 5:29) What is our attitude when we are rebuked or criticised? Are we humble in the manner of Jesus Christ? Or are we angry and resentful? Let us earnestly examine ourselves in this matter.
2. Now let us reflect on the anguish of Mary and Joseph over the loss of Jesus. They had no peace as long as they could not find Him. They set out immediately on the difficult return journey to Jerusalem and searched anxiously for three days. They did not rest until they had found Him at last. Unfortunately, we also lose Jesus whenever we commit sin. Our Lord dwells in our souls by His grace, but if we sin seriously the devil takes possession. We know well that the devil is a cunning tyrant. He entices us by every means in his power to give free play to our passions, and then leaves us in a state of bitterness and remorse. Sometimes he oppresses us to the point of desperation. If ever we should fall and lose the grace of God, let us repeat immediately the words of the prodigal son: “I will get up and go to my Father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee.” (Luke 15:18) Like the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, let us go immediately in search of Jesus, Whom we have lost. We shall have no peace until we have found Him. We also shall find Him in the Temple, for we shall find Him in prayer, in the tribunal of Penance and in Holy Communion.
3. When we have found Jesus at last after we have lost Him by sin, let us implore Him never to permit us to lose Him again. Let us ask Him to let us die rather than offend Him again. Perhaps we have given expression to these prayers and resolutions on previous occasions. But let us not lose heart. Let us remember that in order to test their love and perseverance Jesus allowed Joseph and Mary to search for Him for three days, in spite of their sorrow and their fervent prayers. Let us look for Him in the spirit of love and perseverance, and we shall find and keep Him for ever.