Life Of Christ:
The Blessed Virgin Mary
Birth Of Jesus
Three Wise Men From The East Adore The Infant Saviour
Presentation Of Jesus In The Temple
Flight Into Egypt
Jesus, At Twelve Years, Visits The Temple
Baptism Of Jesus
Jesus Calls The Twelve Apostles
Parables Of Jesus
Miracles Of Jesus
Read More Articles About: Life Of Christ
Jesus, At Twelve Years, Visits The Temple
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
HIS HIDDEN LIFE AT NAZARETH.
THREE times a year, at Easter, Pentecost, and on the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jews were obliged to visit the Temple at Jerusalem. The parents of Jesus willingly complied with this requirement of the law. Jesus did not accompany them on these pilgrimages till He was twelve years of age, and then the journey brought them a great sorrow and filled their hearts with dreadful alarm.
"And His parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch. And when He was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned the Child Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents knew it not. And thinking that He was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and at His answers." (Luke ii. 41-47.)
It was usual for those who attended the festival of the Passover, on their return to their respective homes, to divide themselves into large parties; the men and women generally travelling in separate bands, while the children were permitted to remain with either division. Jesus, before beginning the journey, had, with the per-mission of His parents, joined some friends and acquaintances from Galilee, and when the pilgrims were setting out, St. Joseph supposed that He was at His mother's side in the company of the women, while the Blessed Virgin was quite confident that He had joined His foster-father, and was therefore on His way home with the men. Thus these two holy parents pursued their journey, and had but little concern and no anxiety in regard to their dear child, till, toward evening of the first day, they reached Machmas, a resting-place for caravans, about four leagues north of Jerusalem. How dreadfully alarmed must Joseph and Mary have been when, on meeting, they discovered that the Child Jesus was not in the company! They hurried from house to house, hoping to find the lost one amongst their fellow-.travellers. But their search throughout Machmas proving fruitless, they lost no time in retracing their steps, unattended, in the dead hour of the night, over the dark and dreary road back to Jerusalem. Reaching the city just at daybreak, they hurried through the streets, they searched and inquired everywhere, but in vain. The day passed, and the evening found them almost distracted with grief. The second night and second day were equally sad. The morning of the third day dawned, and the weary parents were still on their disconsolate errand.
But where was the Child Jesus during these three days? He was in the Temple at Jerusalem. There, in a special hall set apart for the teachers of the law, the Child Jesus passed most of the time during which His grief-stricken parents were looking for Him. Three long and weary days they had passed in their search, and now they enter the hall. What a strange spectacle meets their eyes! There is their own Child Jesus, sitting in the midst of the great and learned doctors, listening to them, questioning them, and even instructing them, as if He were the most eminent teacher in Israel ! As soon as Jesus was apprised of His parents' presence, He hastened to meet them. Conceive and describe, if you can, the re-lief and delight of Mary and Joseph! "And seeing Him, they wondered. And His mother said to Him: Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them." (Luke ii. 48-50.)
Is there any shadow of reproach in these words of Jesus? , Not by any means, for they simply justify His own conduct, and contain a lesson. During her quiet and retired life in Nazareth the Blessed Virgin had come to regard Jesus as her child. True, she never forgot for a moment that He was also really and truly the Son of God, but she did not clearly understand how and when He would enter upon and discharge the duties of His mission. On this occasion our divine Saviour sought to lead His blessed mother's thoughts from His human to His divine nature. The God-man must be about His Father's business, that is, He must be occupied in the service of truth, justice, and holiness, and wherever an opportunity occurs of leading separated humanity back to the end for which it was created. Hence Jesus said to His mother and foster-fathers: " Do you not know that I must be about My Father's business?"
" And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And His mother kept all these words in her heart." (Luke ii. 51.) Mary comprehended, though not fully and perfectly, the mystery contained in the words of her Son. She believed, trusted, loved, and adored with all the powers of her soul.
From His twelfth to His thirtieth year, Jesus dwelt with Mary and Joseph in their humble home at Nazareth, advancing " in wisdom and age, and grace with God and men." (Luke ii. 52.) These few words give us a perfect and touching picture of the Holy Family, portraying in simple colors the faithful father, the tender mother, and the obedient child: for all three cooperated faithfully to this advancement.
St. Joseph was the head of the Holy Family. Mother and son were entrusted to his care and protection. By the labor of his hands he was to clothe and feed them, guard them against want and danger, and shield them from evil and misfortune. And how cheerfully did he devote every hour of his life to their welfare! He considered it an honor and a sacred privilege to be entrusted with this duty. While he depended on God's protection and assistance, he applied his hands industriously to his work, and gave his soul to prayer. Work and prayer, both united in love such is the history of the everyday life in the happy home at Nazareth.
And when his work was done, and the time had arrived when Jesus was to enter upon His public mission, St. Joseph was taken away from this world. He died in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
The foster-father St. Joseph is the head of the Holy Family, but Mary is the heart. And what do we find in this heart? St. Luke tells us : "Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart." (Luke ii. 19.) But this meditation does not impede her in the discharge of her household duties, for Jesus occupies both her heart and her hands. " In that household," says the devout Louis of Granada, "we find no servants. Mary is never idle; she is either at work or at prayer. She weaves, spins, sews, cooks the frugal meal, or performs the duties of an ordinary servant. She whom the angels now serve in heaven never had any one to wait upon her while on earth. She is alone: alone in her chamber, alone in her workroom, alone in her kitchen, and serves others cheerfully and assiduously, so as to resemble as much as possible Him who said of Himself: 'The Son of man is come to serve, and not to be served.'"
"And Jesus was subject to them." The King of kings lived eighteen years under the lowly roof of His foster. father, the Carpenter of Nazareth, and was Himself a willing and laborious helper in his work, and a thoughtful and obedient servant of His virgin mother. " As soon," writes Louis of Granada, "as the growing strength of His tender years permitted, Jesus accompanied His father to the workshop in order to help him in providing the means of their subsistence. When at home He assisted His blessed mother in her household duties, and at all times sought to anticipate every wish of His devoted parents. Yes, Jesus was obedient for eighteen years in the solitude of a cottage in a mountain village, and He has been obedient for eighteen centuries in the solitude of His tabernacle upon our altars."
From the retired life of the Holy Family at Nazareth we can and should draw the following lesson: According to the dispositions of divine Providence, the greatest proportion of mankind always remains poor, unknown, and subject to others. The greater the number of those who seek a false independence, honor, and wealth, the more frequent are strife and discontent, the more common are rebellion and war among nations. The greater the number of those who seek to make their lives like the life of the Redeemer, and their condition similar to His peaceful and contented state, the more certain and safe are peace and prosperity. It is not the astute politician, nor the successful soldier, nor the famous scholar, nor yet the daring speculator who brings happiness to the people and true greatness to a nation. It is the peaceful and industrious laborer, the busy and intelligent artisan, who are the bone and sinew of national life and prosperity.
Let us, therefore, walk in the footsteps of Our Saviour, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Let us look not upon the example of the world, trust not its promises, follow not its maxims, for the world disappears, and its pleasures perish with it. But whosoever doth the will of God shall live for all eternity.
Inspire me, O Lord, with a true comprehension of the sublimity of Thy hidden life, and instil into my heart an ardent desire to imitate Thy example, that living hid-den in and with Thee on earth, I may come to participate in Thy glory in heaven.