Homily Christmas 1
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from the God who comes to us as a child. Amen.
They sure grow up fast don’t they? It seems like only last week, Jesus was a little baby. Now he is a 12 year old. He is no longer a little kid who always needs to know where his parents are.
We know what 12 year olds are like. One thing about them, is that they sure seem to be fearless. They have lost any need to tell their parents where they are going and what they are doing.
They may or may not remember that their parents still need to have that information. They can be found in places that are obvious to them, but not to their parents.
If I had been looking for one of my kids for 3 days – well, I cannot imagine how crazy upset that would have made me.
“Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” I wonder how Mary really said that? The words “mother mild” were probably not used to describe her that day.
It is hard to watch kids grow up. Every year on the PBS show Sesame Street they celebrate Big Bird’s birthday with a party. Every year he turns 6 years old. He never gets any older.
Sometimes it seems we look at Jesus that way. We want to keep him swaddled in a manger, not even crying when the cows nuzzle him to get a bite of hay.
Jesus does grow up, though. And that had to be hard for Mary and Joseph. We know it is hard for us when our kids grow up. It is hard to look at them and not remember them as our little babies.
By the time of our story, perhaps things had settled down to normal for the Holy Family. They could put the unusual events of Jesus’ birth in the back of their minds.
Joseph worked in his carpentry shop. No angels or shepherds had stopped by. No Old Testament prophecies had been fulfilled. They didn’t think of those things quite as often.
Or just maybe, Mary and Joseph weren’t quite ready for Jesus to belong fully to God. Maybe they wanted to keep him as their little boy, a while longer.
It is hard for us to think about Jesus growing up, too. It is easier for us to keep him in the manger. After all, babies are so cute.
Twelve year olds are rarely described as cute or adorable. They make their own decisions, whether they are equipped with the knowledge to do that or not.
Mary and Joseph looked for three days. When they finally found Jesus, he acted like they should have known all along where he would be. He said he was in his Father’s house, about his Father’s business.
After three days, Mary and Joseph find Jesus alive and well. He is not in the places they expected to find him. He is not with their extended family or hanging out with the other kids in the caravan of people headed back to Nazareth.
Jesus is in the Temple – listening and asking questions of the teachers there. He is in the very place that it will all end for him some 20 years later – as he is tried, convicted, and handed over for crucifixion.
After three days, Jesus is found to be alive and well in the Temple, a place where no one expected him to be. If that sounds like the resurrection, perhaps that is what Luke intended us to think. After the resurrection, there is a new temple – Christ’s resurrected body.
When we find Jesus after those three days, things will not be the way we expected. There will be a new life, a meaningful life, the life God intends for us.
After this episode, Jesus returns to Nazareth and continues to be an obedient child. But his priorities have changed. The will of his earthly parents is no longer his primary concern. His first priority is God’s will and God’s mission in his life. He is becoming an adult.
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.”
The good news for us today is that this description of Jesus also describes every human child of God, no matter how old we are. We all grow in wisdom as we live out our lives in God’s love. We become adults in our faith.
Mary and Joseph saw Jesus becoming an adult. They saw him grow in wisdom and make God’s will his first priority in life.
May God grant that we, like Mary and Joseph, with all our children, grow in wisdom and years, and divine and human favor. Amen.