Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
Scripture scholars tell us that the stories of Jesus’ birth and the events surrounding them, can be seen as “the Gospel in miniature.” Matthew and Luke have structured these stories so as to anticipate some of their Gospel themes.
Today’s familiar story of Jesus in the temple is a transition between Luke’s infancy stories and the rest of his Gospel. In this charming tale of a lost child, parents desperately searching for him, and the conclusion in the temple, we find some key themes Luke will use later.
The temple itself is a favorite setting for Luke. He’s already pictured Zechariah, and Mary and Joseph there, and now he brings Jesus to the temple. Luke’s Gospel will conclude with the disciples of Jesus in the temple, praising God.
Mary and Joseph are on a journey to Jerusalem—foreshadowing a similar journey Jesus and his disciples will make. And perhaps most importantly, Jesus’ first words describe the urgency he has to be “in my Father’s house.” The business of the Kingdom has begun, and Jesus must be about it.
In the midst of our Christmas celebrations, we’re reminded that there is “the rest of the story,” which will culminate in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the birth of the Church. Along with Mary and Joseph and all who follow him, we have begun the journey.
The story of how Hannah gave birth to Samuel is recounted in this week's first reading. Notice the name she gave to her son—Samuel. That name means “God heard.” Why did she choose that name? What is the story behind that name?
Later, when Samuel was weaned (old enough?) Hannah took him to the Temple and offered the appropriate sacrifice required by the Law. Then Hannah talked to Eli at the temple of the Lord in Shiloh. She told Eli she would entrust Samuel to Eli, as she promised the Lord she would do. Why?
Why can we have confidence in God and receive whatever we ask from him?
The Gospel tells us that Jesus’ parents went up to the Jerusalem every year, for the feast of Passover. Naturally they brought Jesus with him. Then when he was twelve something special happened. What was that?
When Mary and Joseph found Jesus, he as in the temple. What was he doing there?
What did his mother say to him?
How did Jesus respond to his mother?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
The Gospel speaks of the feast of the Passover. At the beginning of Passover, Jewish people gather for a feast. In that spirit, gather your family—and friends, if you feel so inclined—to join you for a homemade family dinner. You can find some of our favorite recipes by clicking here.
When Jesus was in the Temple, people were astounded by his questions and understanding of what the teachers were saying. There might be some things that your kids understand that you don't. Ask them to teach you about something that they have learned or know how to do.