Crème puff had disappeared. This cute kitty somehow found a way to elude the pet nanny. We looked for five hours in the cupboards, under the bed and even in the refrigerator. Missing your neighbor’s kitty is bad enough, but losing your child on a trip back from a religious festival. Some might accuse Mary and Joseph of neglect or at least carelessness. But let’s take a closer look and learn what this story shows us about Jesus and his parents.
First, Mary and Joseph panic was doubtless real—any parent who loses a child in a mall or at an amusement park knows that the old metaphor about having your heart come up into your throat is pretty accurate as descriptions go. But honestly, what had they been thinking
The idea came that just maybe they should check the Temple. “I can’t imagine he’d be there” they must have said to each other, “but we we’re running out of likely places so let’s check.” The Temple was the first place they should have looked as it turns out. His parents don’t understand, however. They are too flush with a combination of intense relief and a little abiding post-traumatic stress to be able to figure it all out just then. We learned that Mary “treasured” all these incidents in her heart. Don’t even imagine that she was silent; maybe a loving embrace, but you bet there had to be consequences for this twelve year old.
So the lesson from this very human, earthy story goes like this. You survived another Christmas, where Baby Jesus rubs elbows with perfect artificial trees, Rudolph’s red nose, and people spending gazillions on violent video games. If you are a parent, grandparent or nurturing adult then you are all too familiar with Mary and Joseph’s parental woes. This is a beautiful story about a Mom and Dad who are not only raising the Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God, but also helping a kid grow up. They worried. They failed. They dreamed. They prayed. They barely made it through some days.
If you choose to dwell on a perfect and divine Jesus wowing the religious experts, go ahead! But I prefer parents’ worried about their failures and a child’s absence. I imagine Joseph and Mary searching Jerusalem with thumping hearts and panicked eyes. When they find Jesus, they yell at him and embrace him and—divine, human, or both—they are his parents and love him. Imagine this is the way your Divine parent worries about you in the New Year. My parents worried about me until their last thoughts and breaths. Of that I am sure. What am I sure about in my faith? I’m human, and will make mistakes. And the divine, the Holy Abba, always searches for me, is always filled with love (and a dose of divine worry) for me.
Next time you are worried about your kids pray: Mary and Joseph come help us make room for Jesus in our life, that he may grow up in us day after day and make us more like him.
Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends who are nurturing anyone at any stage of life. Imagine, Jesus standing by our side when our children have lost their way. May the spirit bring us compassion, patience and gentleness.