I can imagine the panic Mary and Joseph felt when they realized Jesus was not with their group. My imagination leads me to wonder if each of them perhaps expressed exasperation with the other one, as my husband and I would: “But you said you were going to take him with you!” “No, I didn’t. You said ...” etc. I imagine they were not only irritated with each other and felt the fear and anxiety any parent would feel in that situation, but also had an added burden: “Great. God entrusts us with his Only Begotten Son and we lose him. This is just great.”
When we read a story such as this one, I think we all breathe a collective sigh of relief: “If Joseph and Mary can miscommunicate like this, then my misunderstandings, miscalculations and mistakes aren’t the end of the world.”
And then there’s Jesus. Granted, he was only 12 years old, but what was he thinking? Do we view his humanity and decide that, like a normal preteen, his thoughts were more concentrated on his own agenda? Or do we view his all-knowing God-nature and discern that he knew where he was needed most at the moment and that everything else would work out?
The account also tells us that Joseph and Mary were not prepared for Jesus to behave this way. Luke says they were “astonished” when they found him. Were they astonished that he would go off on his own or that he was teaching the elders? Probably a little of both.
Every time I read this Gospel, I feel closer to Jesus and his earthly parents. It leads me to accept that life can sometimes be confusing and that things happen that I don’t have in my master plan. I feel that God is telling me not to try and figure everything out. I need to just let situations “be” sometimes, and “keep these things” in my heart.
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