The Immaculate Heart of Mary – Gospel

Commentary on Luke 2:41-51

The Gospel reading is the story from Luke of Jesus as a young boy staying on in the Temple at Jerusalem. We are told that Jesus’ parents used to go to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Passover.

When Jesus was 12, the year when a Jewish boy was regarded as entering adulthood and subject to the Law, he went with Mary and Joseph as usual on their annual pilgrimage. But, on their way back to Nazareth, Jesus, unknown to his parents, stayed behind in the city. Presuming he was with other members of what was probably a large party of relatives and neighbours, Mary and Joseph continued for a day without seeing him.

But then they became worried and returned to the city to look for him. To lose a young boy in a large city at any time would be a source of great anxiety to parents but, during the Passover, when Jerusalem would be full of strangers from all over, it could be terrifying. Anything could happen to him.

It was finally on the third day that they came across him in the Temple where he was sitting among the teachers of the Law, listening to them and asking them questions. They were amazed at his intelligence and at the answers he gave to their questions. Mary and Joseph, naturally, were astonished to see him in such company.

But they were also upset. Mary asked her Son,

Child, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously looking for you.

But Jesus made no apology for his behaviour:

Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?

But Mary and Joseph did not understand the meaning of his words. They did not comprehend the two uses of the word ‘father’ – “Your father and I…” and “my Father’s house”?

Mary (and Joseph) did not yet recognize that Jesus’ life had reached a watershed. He would pass from the care of Mary and Joseph, his foster father, and move into his calling as the Son of a higher Father. Yet on this day, he would of course, go home with them and become an obedient son in the family. But a warning had been given and, later on, he will leave his home for the last time to begin his official work.

As with any mother experiencing the challenges of a child growing up, we are told that Mary:

…treasured all these things in her heart.

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