A Father’s Task
Joseph had longed for that moment for a long time. This journey to the Temple would be another important act in his sacred duty as a Jewish father. He had named the boy and presented Him to the Lord the Temple twelve years before. The boy had been so receptive as Mary and he had schooled Him the ways of the Covenant. At the synagogue, as they heard the Torah and prayed psalms, it seemed that the boy was remembering something that was already deep inside Him. They knew well what the Angel had told them of the boy. Still, to see Him maturing in wisdom and grace was both wondrous and surprising. Now it was time to bring Him to the Temple again. A great moment; yet perhaps they should have expected the unexpected.
All had gone so beautifully during the pilgrimage in the Holy City. They could see joy in their son’s eyes and they could feel it in His heart. To be in the Temple was, for Him, like coming home! So Joseph thought he could rest easy as they began the trip back to Nazareth, until…
How could this be? It did not make sense! Where was He? Where was He? How could this be? We hear they searched with great anxiety—over the wellbeing of their boy and more. This seemed so contrary to everything, like a world gone awry.
Three days of searching for Jesus, the boy: three days Jesus, the man will spend in the tomb. A world gone awry.
“After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:46)
His serenity and clarity before Mary’s question makes His questions all the more penetrating: Why were you searching for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house? He is saying more than, “Of course, you should have looked for Me here in the Temple”.
We are called, with Mary and Joseph, to understand what it means to be in the Father’s “house”. We are to understand and share something of Jesus’ profound attraction to the Temple as the House of his Father on earth, yet to go deeper still. We sometimes hear this translated as My Father’s business or affairs. Jesus came to do His Father’s will, His Father’s affairs. What is this about? The key that unlocks this is three days, a phrase which in the Gospels points at the Paschal Sacrifice, the Paschal Mystery.
Jesus is asking Mary and Joseph – and us – to join Him in “being about” the Paschal Mystery, the work of salvation, to join Him on the journey!
How parents’ hearts ache for the trials and pains of their children, especially when things go awry or bad choices lead to seemingly unrelenting consequences.
Yet even then faith in Jesus leads us to understand life’s challenges as a sharing in our Father’s business, not simply as painful occurrences to be endured. Rather, as Joseph and Mary were called to go deeper in their comprehension of the mystery that is Christ among us, with them we can come to embrace the Cross.
With Joseph and Mary we are to search for Jesus as the Bride of the Song of Songs searches for her Beloved. It is the searching of the soul, the longing of the heart for love: for love of this, the True Bridegroom. This searching is meant to become finding the God who is Love all around us, especially in those we love, in our homes, in everyday love. We will also find pain. Very often we carry the Cross: because we love, because we share the crosses of ones we love! When we remember then that God is love, while that doesn’t mean that challenges, difficulties, or pains disappear, we can know that GOD IS WITH US, TRULY. A new way opens up, this way that Mary and Joseph were invited to understand more profoundly still, that day in the Temple. Joseph would die before Christ launched His public ministry. Mary remained to stand at the Cross, united heart to heart with Jesus as He saved world. In our everyday crosses we are to be the Beloved Disciple at the side of the Cross, united in the work, too.
This kind love leads to resurrection.
Let us be about the Father’s business.
This October, the Month of the Rosary, “Go to Joseph.” Grow in the faith with your family. Global Prayer Campaign filled with videos, eBooks, podcasts, prayers, reflections, social posts, everything you need for a rich, faith-filled month.
About Fr. James Phalan, C.S.C.
Father James Phalan, C.S.C. is a Catholic priest, member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, and the National Director of Family Rosary. He served as a missionary for many years as part of the Family Rosary team, travelling the globe to help people come to Jesus through Mary. Now he is happy to be serving back at home in the USA!