Learn by Topic: Temple

In today’s Gospel from the Holy Mass (Luke 2:41-52) Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the Temple.

Here is a striking passage (one of many in this reading):

“they found Him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions and all who heard Him were amazed by His understanding and His answers.” (Luke 2:47-47).

This is astounding:Christ-Teaching-at-the-Temple - Bloch - Cropped

  • To teach in the Temple, a rabbi (Hebrew for  “teacher”) typically had to have years of study under a master; for example, Paul studied for years under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).  Jesus was just a child, but was sitting amongst the teachers.
  • Jesus amazes by His understanding and His answers.  Imagine a 12 year old today, sitting with Cardinals of the Church and blowing them away with his/her knowledge of Scripture and the Catechism.  Something like this would make for a viral video that would sweep around the planet.
  • Jesus not only understands, but answers questions.  When is the last time you asked theological questions to a 12-year old?
  • It stands to reason that one of the sources of Jesus’ great wisdom was the upbringing He was being given by the Blessed Mother and Joseph.  Do we strive to teach our children and the children of our parish with the same rigor?
  • Of course the reason why Jesus astounds, is because He is the Word (John 1:1), the Logos, Wisdom itself, for He is the Son of God.  It was astounding then and is astounding now.

It is clear that Jesus was a genius, beyond the genius of even the most learned men.  This should not surprise us, for we believe that Jesus is the Son of God!  While we shouldn’t be surprised, we should certainly be in awe of our God.

12-year old Jesus in the Temple - Albrecht Durer (1497)

12-year old Jesus in the Temple – Albrecht Durer (1497)

This Sunday the Church celebrates the mystery of the Holy Family with a focus on Luke 2:41-52: When Mary and Joseph lose Jesus and then find Him in the Temple.

The story is every parent’s nightmare: Mary and Joseph lose Jesus.  After spending the Passover in Jerusalem, the Mary and Joseph leave with a large group of kin to return to Galilee, assuming that the 12-year old Jesus is with them.

Imagine the panic: “We have lost the Son of God!  We have lost the Son of Man!”  Poor Mary and Joseph; this must have been quite traumatic.

But after a day’s travel, they realize that Jesus is not with them.  They take another day to return to Jerusalem  and one assumes spend another day searching for Jesus.   They finally find the 12-year old, astounding the most learned teachers in Israel in the Temple.  When asked why Jesus has caused such anxiety by staying behind, He replies: “Did you know know that I must be in My Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

As with all actions of the Savior, the finding of Jesus in the Temple has profound and mysterious insights that point to the awesomeness of Jesus Christ.  Mary and Joseph lose Jesus for three days, fearing the worst and find Him in the Temple, which Jesus calls “His Father’s House”.  This prefigures the Passion where Mary and the disciples lose Jesus for three days, fearing that He is dead, but then find that Jesus has been resurrected and will now dwell forever with the Father.

Whose life, as a 12-year old, offers predictions that replay in the future?

The story of finding Jesus in the Temple is an awe-inspiring mystery!