Have you ever lost your child or your grandchild in a crowd? Even just for a brief moment? It's a dreadful experience, isn't it? For Mary and Joseph, that parental worry was prolonged for 72 hours as they searched for the infant Jesus after departing Jerusalem without him in the wake of the feast of Passover. To their great relief, they found him in the Temple in the midst of the teachers.
"When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, 'Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety'. And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:48-49)
That's the scene which Bishop Earl Boyea ponders today in the third installment of his meditations on the seven sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Bishop Boyea sees a foreshadowing of Mary's sorrow during Christ's three days in the tomb but he also fathoms a lesson for parents.
"Mary serves as a model for each of us. We are to be about the work of the Father. And for those who are parents, you are to be about letting your children be about God’s will as well."
We hope you enjoy this brief meditation as we make our way towards the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15. Here is what Bishop Boyea has to say in full:
Once when traveling, one of my five siblings was missing and none of us noticed. All worked out well in the end. Mary and Joseph had a similar experience. After the Feast of Passover, everyone was going home and the parents thought that twelve-year old Jesus was with other relatives. While losing sight of one of six kids is understandable, not noticing the absence of your only child would seem to induce a good amount of guilt. However, this was not the only sorrow Mary experienced on this occasion (Luke 2:41-50).
Searching for him for three days would no doubt come back to Mary as her son lay in his tomb after the crucifixion. And then, there he is. The initial joy of this discovery is, however, soon undone when after expressing Joseph’s and her anxiety, Mary hears Jesus, response, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).
We are told that Mary and Joseph did not understand what Jesus had said. Yet, how can that be? The words of the Angel Gabriel and Simeon twelve years before must have pierced her heart. It was starting. And Jesus seemed to be leading the charge on his own. There would be no avoiding what was to come. Thus, even though Jesus returned with them to Nazareth and remained obedient to his parents, Mary “kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51).
Sisters and brothers, Jesus gave notice that it was the Father’s work that he was to be about. This must have reminded Mary that she too was only to be about the work of the Father, a task she had accepted so many years before. There would be no other task for her. She had given her Fiat, her let it be done to me according to your word, back then. Mary serves as a model for each of us. We are to be about the work of the Father. And for those who are parents, you are to be about letting your children be about God’s will as well.