Sunday Readings: 1 Samuel 1.20-22, 24-28, 1 John 3.1-2,21-24; Luke 2.41-52
After three days Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents saw him, they were astonished. Mary said, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you with great anxiety.” Jesus answered, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” They did not understand what he said to them. Then Jesus went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
The Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family right after Christmas. Already in Sunday’s gospel Jesus is a tween, a 12 year old who goes his own way instead of journeying home from Passover with his parents. Mary and Joseph include Jesus in their religious practice. He accompanies them and other friends and relatives to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.
Jesus is at the age when the human brain begins to develop its abstract thinking skills. He can think, reason, and question. Jesus’ questions take him to the temple to sit among teachers who know Israel’s history and holy writings. This process apparently absorbs him for the three days it takes for Mary and Joseph to miss him, return to Jerusalem, and find him.
Today parents could have messaged their independent child or called the police who check the cameras on every corner. Mary and Joseph have to walk back a day’s journey with anxiety building. What they find is Jesus taking a first step into his adult vocation. His questions and answers amaze all who hear him and astonish his parents.
Like a teen, Jesus is unaware he is causing worry. Identity is the work of the adolescent years. As their brain power increases, teens move into a wider world beyond their families and begin to respond to how others see them. They have to sort out who they want to be, what they stand for and value, who they stand with.
Today one third of all Americans ages 18-33 are nonaffiliated with any religion for many reasons. These years are not for giving up on teens but for accompanying them where curiosity and authenticity take them.
What is adolescence like for the teens in your life? Who talked with you about faith and purpose in your teen years? With what young people have you talked about faith and purpose?