God the source of wisdom
Recently a Sunday school teacher asked her class why Joseph and Mary took Jesus with them to Jerusalem. A small child replied: "They couldn't get a baby sitter." I believe that this response from the child shows how our world has shifted from the time of Jesus. In the days of Jesus not having a baby sitter was not a problem because their community played a major role in raising and protecting young children. The community took an active role in providing not only physical protection but spiritual development as well. Scripture reminds us “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (v.52). This account we have in the canonical Gospels of Jesus' childhood reminds us that discerning divine wisdom in our lives involves the active participation of the family, community, and church.
Family as the source of wisdom for faith formation- We can see that it was the custom of Jesus’ family to attend the Passover feast (the Feast of Unleavened Bread) in Jerusalem. It was a long and difficult journey (app. 70 miles or 113 kilometers) besides being an expensive proposition to worship at the temple. Though many people could not afford the time or the money to make the journey, Mary and Joseph made it a point to go to Jerusalem for the Passover every year. However, what Luke shows us in chapter two is a family that diligently followed the “habits of communal faith.” Not only during this time did they observe the customs of their community but also in on many other occasions. For example, their first born was taken to the temple for presentation, circumcision, and after the birth of their male child mother Mary observed purification codes. Despite the costs and the tremendous commitment of time, Mary and Joseph adhered to the traditions of their faith. There is an important, yet subtle grace apparent here. Perhaps one of the greatest gift His earthly parents gave Jesus was the deep sense of faithful tradition that Judaism had to offer.
Community as the source of wisdom for faith formation - In V. 46 we read "After three days they found him in the temple courts". For parents of Jesus this must have been a time of mixed feelings. Without realizing that He was not in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. The text observes that the parents did not get overly panicked. Mary and Joseph were not careless parents unconcerned about Jesus. This passage tells us more about the culture in which they lived, one in which children were not preyed upon and parents felt quite secure about their children in the presence of the adults of their community. This was a culture oriented toward caring for the stranger and one in which children were given great responsibilities at an early age. What was unusual was that Jesus didn’t even set out after his parents. He was completely “at home” where he was left (or more aptly, had stayed). It was, in the strictest sense, a place where children could be raised in the faith and in the safety of a compassionate community. In this context I am reminded of an African proverb: "It takes a village to raise a child."
Temple as a source of wisdom for divine discernment - In V. 49 Jesus said to his parents “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?". This is the greatest discernment a 12 year old can make. On the twelfth year of any Jewish male’s life they moved from being a son of their parents to a Son of the Law (Bar Mitzvah). It was the year when Jesus moved from being the official son of Joseph to being a Son of the Law. It was critical for Mary and Joseph to know that Jesus didn’t belong to them; he belonged to God. In other words Jesus was saying that 'I do not belong to you'. This was an important lesson to His parents. Being in the presence of God gives us a new vision, insight, and discernment about life and calling. Anything in this world we have do not belong to us, it belongs to God including our children.
Prayer: Dear God, help us to respect our faith heritage yet discern your will for our lives. Amen.
Thought For the Day : Wisdom comes from God
Rev. Biju. P. Simon, MTC, Chicago