Three little points about the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.
The Law of Moses stipulated that the Jews of old were to go up to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple three times a year.
The trip on foot from Nazareth to Jerusalem was long. It took a few days. It was not a journey for anyone younger than twelve.
The pilgrimage of the twelve-year-old Christ to Jerusalem was the first time the Lord Jesus ascended to the Temple on His own two feet. It was His first religious pilgrimage.
He went with the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and His kith and kin from the rural outpost of Nazareth. He went up to worship God. That is why the Jews went on pilgrimage to the Temple, to worship God.
Christ, of course, is God. Did He go up to worship Himself?
No. As a twelve-year-old boy, the Son offered perfect worship to the Father, turning His Sacred Heart to His Father with pure, attentive devotion.
When Christ stepped into the Temple, the eternal love of the Trinity of divine Persons was expressed in a new way. The young Christ meditated, prayed, and sang Psalms. He praised the Father, adored the Father, and offered Himself in obedience to the will of the Father.
This one, simple, perfect act of religion, offered on behalf of the whole human race–this one pilgrimage of Christ would have been enough to redeem us all from sin. But in fact it was just the beginning of the Lord Jesus’ pilgrimage, the one He made for us to the Cross.
By the time of this pilgrimage to Jerusalem, our Lady had gotten to know the Lord Jesus very well. The Blessed Virgin had grown into a woman while raising the Son of God.
When He started talking and asking questions, our Lady was 16, 17, or 18. When she could count on Him to help her do things with His own little hands–without being asked–she was maybe about 20.
During the years of life when you and I might have been wondering what we were supposed to do with ourselves, our Lady was in daily contact with this kind Son. Every day He looked up at her with eyes of infinite love. Every day He said and did things which revealed a hidden wisdom so mysterious and sublime that all she could do was take it all in with silent awe.
It is not too much to say, then, that by the time the Lord was twelve, He had become the all-consuming love of our Lady’s life. St. Joseph would not have been jealous for a moment. After all, His foster-son was the all consuming love of his life, too. Joseph and the Mary loved each other with the most intense and pure married love ever, by loving the young Christ together.
Our Lady knew the young Jesus better than any human being could ever know anyone. She loved Him more than anyone could love anyone. She lived for Him more intensely than anyone has ever lived for anyone. They were together always. Then He vanished.
He was gone. She did not know where He was.
She knew very well that He had a destiny beyond their quiet, happy life together in Nazareth. But she did not know exactly what that destiny entailed. For all she knew at the instant He went missing, that destiny might be beginning right now. After all, her own mysterious destiny began to unfold at about that age.
At that moment, our Lady had to contend immediately with this dark, hard fact: She might never see Him again on earth.
She did see Him again. Where?
He said it all Himself: Why did you fuss around? Why did you shamble up and down the streets? Where else could I be, dearly beloved parents of mine?
What were you thinking? Did you think that I was going to be at a basketball game? Or in the mall? Or at a café? Did you think I was going to be sitting at uncle Zerubbabel’s house watching t.v.?
Christ is to be found in the Temple. To find Christ, you have to come to church! The good Lord showed us where to find Him when he was twelve years old. It is not rocket science. He is in church.