Day 4 – The Loss of Jesus in the Temple

Day 4 – The Loss of Jesus in the Temple

“And suddenly there will come to the Temple the Lord whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.” Malachi 3:1

The loss of a child is the greatest sorrow a parent can experience.  When Jesus was 12, Luke tells us that the family made their annual trip to Jerusalem for Passover.  One day into the return trip, both Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus is not in the caravan heading back home.  They return to Jerusalem, and after three days of frantic searching, find him in the Temple sitting among the teachers, engaged in a lively exchange. “When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.’  And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he said to them.” (Luke 2:41-50)

Many readers are surprised at Jesus’ seemingly flippant response to his mother.  He was twelve, on the cusp of adulthood, flexing his independence and, let’s face it, generally behaving like a 12-year old boy.  Mary and Jesus are at a pivotal moment in their relationship, the close mother-son relationship they have shared to this point is giving way as he takes a step towards manhood.  In their case, this separation is also the harbinger of things to come, a prelude to further separation and sorrow.

Mary’s sorrow is twofold, first at the physical loss of her child and secondly at his response which she “did not understand”. Because she loved him, she had searched so frantically for him. Could he not see that? Did he not perceive her concern? Yes, Jesus does recognize her sorrow, but he is already trying to move her heart to the deeper joy and her deeper calling. Mary was overwhelmed by the loss; Jesus wants her to move forward with him to what is gained: the Father’s house.

If we lose Jesus, all is lost. But when we find him, when we return to him through prayer and the sacrament of reconciliation, we gain more than we had ever lost. This is the experience of every Christian. We are sinners who have experienced the forgiveness and mercy of God the Father time and time again, and through that unconditional love have come to realize that the best place to be is “in my Father’s house.” Jesus knew this. He reminded his mother of this. He wants to lead you and me to this: to be in the Father’s house.

Mary’s sorrow is transformed into joy through her meditation on the beginning of Jesus’s mission. The words of the prophets are coming true. Jesus is beginning to show his true colors, and she feels in her own soul a profound joy in the imminent redemption of her people. We too ask for the grace to apprehend the truth in our lives, to see everything from the Father’s perspective, and to ponder all these things in our hearts with the Holy Spirit’s gift of counsel that guides fortitude and guards against rashness.


Questions to Ponder:

How have I experienced separation from Jesus in my own life?

What has helped me the most to strengthen my relationship with Christ?



Blessed Virgin Mary, teach me to love Jesus more, to place my trust in him. Help me to find Him in prayer, Scripture, the Eucharist, and the least of my brethren. When I see the hurt and pain in the lives of those who are lost, let me be your heart and hands and feet to reach out through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy to bring them home, to the Father’s house. May I love with your Immaculate Heart, and with the Sacred Heart of your divine Son. Amen.

Hail Mary full of grace …

Jesus, I trust in you!

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