Lectio Divina: The Holy Family (C)
Mary and Joseph find Jesus
Among the doctors in the Temple in Jerusalem
Luke 2: 41-52
1. Opening prayer
Father in heaven, You are my creator. You welcome me through Jesus Christ Your Son. You guide me by Your Holy Spirit. Enlighten my mind so that I may understand the meaning of the life You have granted me, the plan You have for me and for those You have placed at my side.
Enkindle fire in my heart so that I may follow Your revelation joyfully and enthusiastically. Strengthen my weak will, unite it to the will of others so that together we may do Your will and thus build the world as one family more and more in Your image. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.
2. Lectio: A reading of Lk 2:41-52
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.
3. A time of silence
that the Word of God may enter our hearts and enlighten our lives.
4. Meditatio: A few questions
to direct our meditation and practice.
Why does Luke, the Evangelist, tell us this story in Jesus’ life? Where is the climax, the center of the passage? There are times when family (community) relationships become tense and difficult and misunderstandings take place. Do we seek autonomy and independence? Who or what becomes more important at a particular time in our life? Can we organize hierarchically our relationships, our self-affirmation, our values, our tasks, our morality? Today, we often find “extended” families (multi-ethnic communities) with re-married parents, partners, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, grandparents, parents of one partner and not of the other. On whom can we rely? Can we submit to one person or just rebel?
5. A key to the reading
We find ourselves among the so-called infancy stories according to Luke (chap. 1-2). This is the final passage, a theological and Christological prologue rather that a historical one, where we are presented with motifs that recur later in Luke’s catechesis: the Temple, the journey towards Jerusalem, divine filiation, the poor, the merciful Father, etc. Reading back, in Jesus’ childhood there already appear signs of His future life. Mary and Joseph take Jesus to Jerusalem to take part in one of the three pilgrimages (the Passover, Pentecost and the feast of the Tabernacles) prescribed by the law (Deut 16:16). During the seven days of the feast, people took part in the cult and listened to the Rabbis, who discussed beneath the portico of the Temple. “The boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem”, the city the Lord chosen for His throne (2 Kings 21:4-7; Jer 3:17; Zech 3:2), and where the Temple is found (Ps 68:30; 76:3; 135:21), the only place of worship for the Jews (Jn 4:20). Jerusalem is the place where “all that was written by the prophets concerning the Son of man will be fulfilled” (Lk 18:21), the place of “His departure” (Lk 9:31,51; 24:18) and of His appearances after the resurrection (Lk 24:33,36-49). His parents “sought Him” anxiously and troubled (2:44,45,48,49). How is it possible to lose a son, not to realize that Jesus is not in the caravan? Is it Christ who has to follow others or vice versa? “Three days later” the “passion” ends, and they find Jesus in the Temple, among the doctors, teaching to the amazement of all. The characteristics of His mission begin to unfold and this mission is summarized in the first words that Jesus speaks in Luke’s Gospel “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be busy with My Father’s affairs?” But who is His father? Why seek Him? This is the same father mentioned in Jesus’ last words, in Luke, on the cross: “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit” (23:46) and at the ascension into heaven “And now I am sending down to you what the Father has promised” (24:49). Above all, we must seek to obey God, as Peter well understood after Pentecost (Acts 5:29), seek the Kingdom of God and His justice (Mt 6:33), seek the Father in prayer (Mt 7:7-8), seek Jesus (Jn 1:38) and follow Him. Jesus proclaims His dependence - “I must” – on His heavenly Father. He reveals the Father in His immense goodness (Lk 15), but He thus creates a distance, a break, with His family. Before all affective ties, all personal fulfillment, all affairs… comes God’s project. “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, let Your will be done, not Mine” (Lk 22:42). Simeon’s prophecy (Lk 2:34) begins to happen for Mary, “but they did not understand”. His parents’ lack of understanding is also that of His disciples concerning the foretelling of the passion (18:34). Rebel? Submit? Walk away? Jesus “went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority”, says Luke, and Mary “stored up all these things in her heart”. Mary’s attitude expresses the development of faith in a person who grows and progresses in knowledge of the mystery. Jesus reveals that obedience to God is the essential condition for fulfilling one’s life, for a way of sharing in the family and in community. Obedience to the Father is what makes us brothers and sisters, teaches us to obey each other, to listen to each other and recognize God’s plan in each other. Such an atmosphere creates the conditions necessary to grow “in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and men” and to journey together.
6. Oratio: Psalm 83 (84)
The pilgrim’s hymn
How lovely is Thy dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young, at Thy altars,
O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Thy house,
ever singing Thy praise!
Blessed are the men whose strength is in Thee,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
the God of gods will be seen in Zion.
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear,
O God of Jacob!
7. Contemplatio: Closing prayer
I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have revealed to me Your goodness and Your love. You really are the only One who can give full meaning to my life. I love my father, but You are my Father; I love my mother, but You are my Mother. Even if I had not known the love of my parents, I know that You are love, You are with me and You are waiting for me in Your eternal dwelling place prepared for me from the beginning of creation. Grant that, together with me, the members of my family, sisters and brothers, all those who journey in community with me, may do Your will so as to foreshadow on earth and then enjoy in heaven the wonders of Your love. Amen