Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking For Jesus

Reflections on the Readings
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
December 30, 2012 Year C
The Year of Faith 

Looking For Jesus

And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so?  Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously."  And he said to them, "How is it that you sought me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"

We were on our way back home from Atlanta recently and the electronic message sign on the interstate flashed: AMBER ALERT.  What followed was a description of the vehicle and the temporary Georgia tag number.  Anyone sighting this vehicle was advised to call 9-1-1.  

According to a news story about this the mother reported her suspicions and concerns to the authorities after she was unable to reach the father by cell phone.  Immediately one thinks of the trauma of divorce or separation and who gets the kids at Christmas time.  At this time of the year it can be most stressful for families for all kinds of reasons and as a result we see more domestic disputes and disruptions and disagreements and violence during the holidays.  And for these families we pray they may especially have the peace of Christ.  

Every year, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Passover.  This memorial is described in Exodus chapter 12.  It is a remembrance of the event of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.  This commemoration recalls God's freeing his people from the yoke of Egyptian slavery.  Joyful songs are sung and the time is spent among family and friends in community.  In Jesus' time this celebration was celebrated in a central location at the Temple in Jerusalem.  

Because it was such a rich and familial time it was assumed that Jesus was among the clan leaving to return to Nazareth.  But after a day's journey Mary went looking for her twelve year old son whom she had not seen for about 24 hours.  At first she was not worried because she assumed Jesus was among the families they were traveling with.  Mary and Joseph inquired among their family and acquaintances in the caravan confident they would find their son.  When they did not locate him in their caravan they quickly arranged to go back to Jerusalem.  You might say Mary and Joseph had their own AMBER ALERT of sorts.  We are not told all the places in Jerusalem they searched for Jesus.  From the story we know they looked for their son for three days.  And on the third day they found him in the Temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 

Perhaps Mary and Joseph look upon this scene with their mouths agape.  They look at each other, and Mary looks deep into her heart where many things have been stored.  Here in the Temple Jesus is engaged in a question and answer session with the learned Rabbi's of his time.  This is yet another of those mysteries surrounding her that Mary adds to the treasures already in her heart.  Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, is herself growing in the mystery of the Incarnation as her son increases in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.

Where is Jesus?  

He's in us.  He's with us in the ways we are called to be in relationship with one another.  Paul, in the second reading, alludes to our baptism as putting on Christ.  That garment of salvation is seen in our expressions of heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Jesus is where there is forgiveness and the bond of perfect love demonstrated in the goodness of God we exchange with one another.  If we are looking for Jesus we will find him in every word we speak in his love and in every deed we do in his name.  If our words and our actions are Christlike then those who hear our words and see our lives may say, "That looks like someone who knows the Lord."

We come together every Lord's Day expressly looking for Jesus.  He's among us in our brothers and sisters we pray with every Sunday.  Jesus is with us in the reading of the scriptures.  And in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist we see Jesus in the breaking of the bread.  Every Sunday the Father summons us to his house to meet with his Son in a special way.  Are you looking for Jesus? He's here in his Father's house ready to fill us with his life and love at this Holy Altar.  Amen.

Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN.  Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at   His website is:     

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