Online Retreat Guide - Week 16
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A Hidden Life for Thirty Years

Guide: The Carpenter’s Son

One of the most remarkable realities about Jesus is that we know almost nothing about the first thirty years of his life. We know the stories from his public life that tell us that people who knew his relatives were fairly underwhelmed by his background. One of the charges leveled against him was “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?”

This week of our retreat allows us to get to know the developing person of Jesus. Because there are so few Scripture references to the period from his birth to his baptism, we will have to imaginatively fill them in from what we do know about him.

If we reflect on the kind of adult person Jesus became, it is possible for us to reflect on what kind of childhood he had, what kind of kid he was, what kinds of issues he wrestled with, what kind of choices he made. Using what we know about the development of children, young adults, and maturing adults, we can make some wonderful guesses at some of the human issues Jesus must have faced. Praying this way lets us get to know him more deeply that we might fall in love with him more intimately and come to our deepest desire to be with him in his mission from God.

Let us open our hearts to be shown the early childhood of Jesus. Can we go through this week imagining all the very human childhood traumas and growth that were his? And as we walk around in Jesus’ teen and young-adult years, we can let him show us how he became who he is today. Can we imagine his struggles? His questions? His strengths? His weaknesses? Can we imagine his relationships at different stages of his development?

If we can get beyond what we think we don’t know about those years, we can learn about how Mary and Joseph raised him. We can imagine what life in the town of Nazareth might have been like.

We know that Jesus saw himself as one called to proclaim liberty to captives and to preach the good news to the poor. We know that he saw the blessedness of being spiritually poor. We know that he understood that the reign of God was like yeast or a small seed, and that weeds and wheat must grow together. We know that he was not afraid to eat and drink with sinners and those who religious leaders avoided. We know that he saw himself as a servant, a foot washer, and as bread that would be broken and given for the life of the world. How did the carpenter’s son come to all of this?

The one who loves us will show us who he is, allow us to fall more deeply in love with him than we ever imagined, and draw us to follow him more closely, day by day, week by week.

Consider sharing the graces you have received
this week with others making the retreat.

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Click on photo to see larger image
and Photo Gallery.
Photos by Don Doll, S.J.

selected to support 

our prayer each week.

Getting Started
this Week

Some practical helps 

for this week's prayer.

For the Journey
Reflections by

Larry Gillick, S.J.

as helps for the


In these or
similar words

St. Ignatius might say: "Speak with Our Lord, as friend to friend, in these or similar words."

Some readings that are chosen

 to fit this week.

Written prayers by others sometimes helps us find words ourselves.

A Place to Share
At any time this week, if you have anything you'd like to share, that has touched you, you can share it by leaving a note here, even anonymously.

Read the Sharing
Read what others have shared about their prayer or graces.


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