How fast things can, at times, go downhill. Joseph, Mary and Jesus travelled to Jerusalem for the high holy days with their extended family. It must have been very exciting to be in Jerusalem at Passover with about two million other visitors. How panic-stricken must Joseph and Mary have been when they realized that their adolescent son, Jesus, was not travelling home with them? We can only imagine the terror that gripped them. No blame game was recorded; they returned to Jerusalem on a desperate mission: find their son.

They find him in the temple. They realize, at some level, that Jesus must be about his father’s work in this one glimpse of Jesus just before he becomes a teenager, and how his parents react. It is a glimpse of the second holy family in action. The original holy family is the trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – a love relationship from all eternity. Did you notice the names the trinity picked were family relationship titles to reveal themselves: parent, son/brother, and mysterious spirit?

We cannot explain the workings of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in their unique family, but we can draw helpful parallels to our own family. Joseph was the breadwinner. It could not have been an easy task because Mary and Joseph almost immediately became refugees in a foreign land, Egypt, in their early years when they did not speak the language. They stayed in Egypt until Herod died and they could safely return home to Nazareth in Galilee.

At times, they, like us, had to make difficult choices. I’m sure every parent here can identify with having a missing child – even if for only a few seconds. After Jesus was crucified, many years later, Mary had the terrible experience of holding her dead, bloody son in her arms – in the next to last chapter of her life.

You adolescents can identify with the young Jesus who wants to do something, but his parents say, “Not yet; you are not old enough.” Jesus experienced the disappointment in being “dragged away” from the temple where he wanted to be and must have felt annoyed and misunderstood.

Our family is a great place of discovery. Most of us have had good experience in being nurtured in the womb of the family:

  • it is the place where we experience the forming of our self-identity
  • it is the place where we experience self-esteem, a sense of our own worth
  • it is the place where we experience what “belonging” means
  • it is the place where we experience love and learn compassion for others
  • it is the place where we learn the absolute necessity of respect for ourselves, for all others, for property, for the material world we live in
  • it is the place where, hopefully, we learn those three important phrases in communication; “I was wrong,” “I’m sorry,” please, forgive me.”
  • it is the place where we are first introduced to God
Every one of us in church this day did not have all the good experience just described. If we did not, we have experienced families outside our own that have provided sources of learning for us. Let us never wallow in self-pity for not having been born into the perfect family; it doesn’t exist.

We pray this morning that the lessons we learned before kindergarten, during kindergarten and thereafter will be revisited with gratitude. May we question ourselves about our subsequent choices and how we may correct our