In the fifth Joyful Mystery, we meditate on the finding of our Lord Jesus in the Temple. Earlier in the course of our meditations on these mysteries we call Joyful we have seen how the coming of Christ to the world, born of a woman- Mary, has taught us some things about the coming of Christ- the Divine Life into every soul. We have taken a look at the safeguards and the necessary things that characterize that ‘advent’. But today something has happened which we must consider and which also happens to the individual soul into whom Divine Life has been born. What happened? Mary and Joseph lost Jesus on their way back from Jerusalem!!!
This also happens in the life of each one of us. The Divine life which we have received can be lost. We should not feel frustrated or hopeless when this time comes, no matter how many times they come. Our lady and Joseph lost the Christ child after 12 years of being with him, nursing him and nurturing him, so we should not lose heart if this happens to us! Instead we should take a cue from Mary and diligently set out looking for him again. Each time we realize that we have become lax, and have let the flesh dominate and stifle the life of the Spirit in us, we should not give up or despair, we should set out searching for him the very moment we realize he is gone.
Searching for him might take some time, yes-it took Mary and Joseph three days (Luke 2:46) to find him again, and so no matter the number of days it takes us to find him, to return to our Father’s house (Luke 15:18), we should nevertheless set out. But to take a cue from our Lady, to find our Lord, She and Joseph, first of all searched for him among the people they had been with, maybe they had lost him there. In other words, they were trying to retrace their steps, to think back. This is very important for us as well, when we discover we have lost Christ, we have to sit down and do a good ‘examination of conscience‘ asking our Lady, St. Joseph and the Holy Spirit for help-in essence asking ourselves the question- where have I lost him? How did I lose him?
After three days however, they find him-in the temple. This is very important for me and I feel this in a very unique way relates to what we discussed last time. To find Jesus, they had to go back to the temple. For me, this forms a sort of context for understanding the mystery behind the sacrament of reconciliation and in a way foretells it. It is in the context of temple that Jesus is found again- in his father’s house. Look no further then my brothers and sisters, go to the temple-to the Church, where Our Lord has commissioned priests and has made them his ministers of reconciliation in order to reconcile the world back to him, in order to help us find him again in a more real and sacramental way. (2 Cor. 5:18-20, John 20:21-23)
Finally, it shows us the importance of Church, of the family of God in our reconciliation with God. Having been built into the body of Christ as living stones, a defect in us is a defect in the body- a re-connection to the family of the church is therefore part and parcel of the reconciliation with Christ-for he is the Church. Many times when we realize that we have sinned, we prefer to withdraw from the communion of the body of Christ and feel that we can solve our problems with Christ in and of ourselves, without caring about the body- this has led many people to deny the importance of the sacrament of penance and advocate a solely ‘private’ or ‘personal’ reconciliation. This is not the Spirit of the Church and certainly not the Spirit of Christ. This is clearly shown today when as Mary and Joseph went back to the temple to find Jesus, they found him, not all by himself, rather they found him sitting among teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. (Luke 2:46)- in the social context of temple. St. James has this to say to us- Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed (James 5:16).
This moment indeed when we find Our Lord is an occasion of JOY. It is like a rebirth of the Divine Life into our souls, and just as the angels rejoiced in heaven when he was first born, there is much rejoicing in heaven over the repentance and conversion of one sinner. (Luke 15:7, 10, 22-24).
image from thriceholy.net