Homily - Memorial of The Immaculate Heart of Blessed Virgin Mary

Gospel Luke 2:41-51
Every year his parents used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, they boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.

Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they say him, and his mother said to him, “My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.” “Why were you looking for me?” he replied. “Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?” But they did not understand what he meant.

He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart.

My Mum used to be a school teacher, and I remember one evening  a few years ago. We were chatting while she was doing some marking. With a smile on her face she passed me an exercise book from a young boy. They had been talking about today's gospel at school and the children had been asked write it in their own words. What I read went something like this.

“When they left Jerusalem, Jesus ran away and hide in the temple, when Mary and Joseph couldn't find him they looked everywhere. When they found him in the temple they were very angry. They told him he was very naughty, then Jesus said he was very sorry and promised never to do it again”
I am not sure that, that young boy really understood the message of the gospel, which is a very nice introduction for me to explain that this gospel is all about how God prepares us for our future even if we don't understand immediately.

I don't know about you, but there are two questions I find myself asking:

What was Jesus doing in the temple?, and
Why didn't he tell Mary & Joseph where he was going?

So lets start by looking at what happened in the temple. We are told Jesus was listening and asking questions, so was he taking time to learn about his faith?, we know that as an adult he had expert knowledge of the Jewish teachings, is this where he learnt it? That may make some sense, but if we dig a little deeper it's not the whole answer. Jesus was sitting among the doctors, here the important word is sitting, as it was only the elders, the teachers & doctors who were allowed to sit. The students would have stood to ask their questions. So even at twelve years old he was at least their equal in knowledge. We are also told they were astounded at his intelligence and his replies.

So now we start to see him not as bright student able to answer their questions, but a gifted teacher with insights that are new to those who are listening. Unlike other stories in the bible we are not told the message Jesus was teaching or who he was teaching it to. As I pondered this my imagination started racing, maybe Joseph of Arimathaea was there, or Stephen the first martyr. What might they have heard, that day, would it have inspired their actions 21 years later. Putting my imagination to one side, all we can know, was what Jesus told his mum and dad when they found him, “That he was busy with the affairs of his father”, and like them we may find it difficult to know what he meant.

Which brings me to my second question, why didn't he tell his parents where he was going? This really puzzled me for a while. At first glance Jesus was being naughty, but that can't be right, so a read it again, and this time I read it from Mary's perspective, thinking about what she would have stored up in her heart.

Mary was in Jerusalem with her family for the passover feast. They had a great time with all their friends around them. The day after the feast they left, Jesus was off playing with his friends, or so she thought. Mary's day went very wrong when she couldn't find Jesus. She was frantic, her son was missing, she searched everywhere.
For three days she search and he was no where to be found. Then on the third day she found him, he was safe, thanks be to the Lord. “Where have you been?   Why did you do this to us?” she demanded, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Her sons answer was not what she expected, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be busy with my fathers affairs.” This made no sense to Mary, but her son was safe, and she knew his father was the Lord, and if there was one thing Mary had, it was faith in the Lord, so she gave her son a big hug and held his hand tight all the way back home to Nazareth.

This isn't the only time in the bible we hear of Mary losing her son the day after passover. 21 years later she stands at the foot of a cross, looking up at the tortured face of her son. I'm wondering if those same words “Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father's affairs” didn't suddenly make sense. How many times over the next three days did she remember them and draw courage from them, then on Sunday morning, on finding the tomb empty, did she fully understand what Jesus had meant and that he had been preparing her, all those years ago, for the worst three days of her life.

Our lives are full of joy and sorrow.
Our lives are full of opportunities to learn, there are teachers all around us.
Sometimes we recognise the teacher, and sometimes we don't.
Sometimes we enjoy the lessons, and sometimes we don't. Sometimes we understand the lessons and sometimes we don't.
Sometimes we store these things in our hearts, and sometimes we don't.

Mary's heart was a wonderful store of wisdom.
If you look into your heart, what have you stored there?
Do you store in your heart the difficult things, the ones you don't understand?
Do you have faith to trust, that one day you may need to be prepared, and that God, because he loves you, will make sure that you are?

Let us take a couple of minutes now in silence to look into our hearts and see what we have stored there.

No comments:

Post a Comment