Our Lady’s Finding Of The Child Jesus In The Temple
When Jesus was twelve years old, in the eyes of the Law considered a man, he attended the Temple with His parents. Jesus, looked upon as human by His parents, wandered from them on His own. So, on their return journey, they thought Him in the caravan, visiting friends or relatives, and being feted on this first recognition as man. So sociable and friendly was the Boy that Mary and Joseph saw nothing strange in starting back home without Him. Women were placed in the center of the caravan; men and boys in front and back to protect the women. At close of day families united; and Mary and Joseph sought their Boy casually among friends. Then followed three long days of misgivings when they wondered whether another Herod had snuffed out the life of their Boy. They recalled Simeon’s prophecy and a third sword of sorrow pierced Mary’s heart
On the third day with growing anxiety, they came to God’s Temple to tell Him their sorrow and to plead for His mercy and help. Hardly had they turned to God, when they heard His voice, and God revealed to them the Child they had encircled blindly all these worried days. Loving Mother that she is, Mary believed that her Son must have reason for His truancy. So, when she found Him among the Doctors of the Temple, she gave Him a chance to explain Himself. Her pride in His wisdom before these brilliant men of the Law did not keep her from her duty in teaching Him obedience and submission. “Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold, thy Father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” Mary did not place her own grief first in gently chiding Jesus, but tried to direct His attention to His Foster Father’s love for Him.
Christ was not unsympathetic to His parent’s grief. He knew what they must have suffered for these three days; yet, He did not want them to become too attached to Him, nor too possessive, lest they later felt His permanent absence too much when His public life began. So, He reminded them kindly that He must be about His Father’s business, and they returned to their home, and He was subject to them.
The saddest part of the Finding in the Temple must have been in the silent journey homeward. Jesus could not find words to erase the pain in His parents’ hearts at this first step toward the cross. Mary’s was the desolation of a Mother who wanted to give her child to God, but could not conceal completely the sacrifice it entailed. Joseph, like all good fathers, sensed the cloud hanging over their lives, and did his best to stand quietly by Mary’s side as a pillar and understanding champion of his Foster-Son, an inspiration and a support to both.
This was the last time St. Joseph’s name is mentioned in Scripture. We do not know for certainty, but lay history tells us that Joseph died when Jesus was 29 years old, one year before the miracle at Cana, a model in death for parents who do not live to share their children’s success and glory. This is just one more proof of the equalizing goodness of God who gives to all something for each sacrifice. Though Joseph was deprived of seeing His Son honored on earth, his was the singular privilege of dying in the arms of Jesus and Mary, an honor that made him our “patron of a happy death.”