We continue our Patristic Rosary Project today with the:
5th Joyful Mystery: The Finding in the Temple
Pious Jews would go to Jerusalem for the Passover so that they could bring a lamb to the Temple to be sacrificed at the right moment on the right day. Jesus Himself would be nailed to a Cross and die during the slaughter of the lambs in the Temple while the priests lined the stairs to the altar and sang Psalms. In the quiet of the ancient world, when Jerusalem was still on that holy day, Jesus could probably hear the crying of the lambs and the psalms being sung. Did Jesus picture the scene as He was dying? He knew the Temple well, after all. The Holy Family traveled to the Temple at least one during the childhood of the Lord and Jesus wound up spending three days there.
Mary and Joseph lost Jesus for three days and found Him again in the Temple. Few hints of His childhood remain to us in Scripture. Thus, the Fathers thought they were filled with meaning. St Ambrose of Milan (+397) wrote:
The beginning of the Lord’s disputation is taken from His twelfth year. This number of the evangelists was intended for the preaching of the Faith. (cf. Mt 10:1-2,7) Nor is it idly that, forgetful of His parents according to the flesh, he who according to the flesh assuredly was filled with the wisdom and grace of God is found after three days in the Temple. It is a sign that He who was believed dead for our Faith would rise again after three days from His triumphal Passion and appear on His heavenly throne with divine honor. [Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 2.63]
The Father’s reflected about the divinity even in the context of this very human situation. Venerable Bede (+735) offers this:
The Lord’s coming every year to Jerusalem for the Passover with His parents is an indication of His human humility. It is characteristic of human beings to gather to offer God the votive offerings of spiritual sacrifices, and by plentiful prayers and tears to dispose their Maker toward them. Therefore the Lord, born a man among men, did what God, by divine inspiration through His angels, prescribed for man to do. He Himself kept the Law which He gave in order to show us, who are human beings pure and simple, that whatever God orders is to be observed in everything. Let us follow the path of His human way of life. If we take delight in looking upon the glory of His divinity, if we want to dwell in His eternal home in heaven all the days of our lives (Ps 27:4 (26:4 LXX)), it delights us to see the Lord’s will and to be shielded by His holy Temple. And lest we be forever buffeted by the wind of wickedness, let us remember to frequent the house, the Church of the present time, with the requisite offerings of pure petitions. [Homilies on the Gospels 1.19]
We can always find Jesus in Person in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle of a Catholic church. When buffeted, find Him.
Sometimes we think we know more than we do and we press it on others. The young Christ, God, gives a good example to pushy know-it-alls. The always engaging Origen (+254) wrote:
Because He was a small child, He is found “in the midst of teachers”, sanctifying them and instructing them. Because He was a small child, He is found “in their midst”, not teaching them but “asking questions”. He did this because it is appropriate to His age, to teach us what befits boys, even if they are wise and learned. They should rather hear their teachers than want to teach them and not show off with a display of knowledge. He interrogated the teachers not to learn anything be to teach them by His questions. From one fountain of doctrine, there flow both wise questions and answers. It is part of the same wisdom to know what you should ask and what you should answer. It was right for the Savior first to become a master of the learned interrogation. Later He would answer questions according to God’s reason and Word. [Homilies on the Gospel of Luke 19.6]
“The Church should ordained women!”
“The Church should back off about homosexuality!”
“The Church must conform to modern times!”
Perhaps some of those who are so keen constantly to tell the Church what ought to be believed and what shouldn’t be might meditate on this mystery.
People lose Jesus all the time. They lose Him in the details of life. They lose them in their own naval gazing. They lose Him sometimes for years or decades and they never search Him out.
He never stops searching for us, however.