Devotion for December 21, 2021

Luke 2:41-52
Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.  Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.”

He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

Can you imagine being a youth minister to 12-year-old Jesus? Set aside how we revere Jesus and his teachings for a moment. Anyone who has ever worked with middle school students knows that they have the unique capacity to say something profound in one breath only to follow it in the next with something absolutely insane. You know these kids.

Yet here Jesus is not portrayed as a normal 12-year-old, for obvious reasons. The precocious child was learning, asking questions and engaging topics that surprised those who were there. Again, if you’ve been around 12-year-olds you know they can be caught in the tension between childhood and adulthood. Parents know this at a whole different level. Mary certainly did. We are reminded that she treasured being his mom from moments in the manger, to anxiety in the Temple to watching him increase in wisdom and years. Children are a treasure to all of us in Christian community, not just parents. May we all approach children in our community as Mary did Jesus, treasuring them in our hearts through all the years of life.