One of my favorite Christmas movies is Home Alone. It’s a “must see” annually during the holidays for me. I am not sure why I am so fascinated with that movie, but it gets me laughing every single year. Remember the scene where the parents are loading everyone up in the van and off to the airport for vacation they are heading? They conduct a head count, like most good parents and chaperones of any trip, and somehow the head count still gets messed up because the wrong child is counted. Thinking they had everyone, they are on their way. It’s only after they are on the plane that they realize they are missing a child. “Kevin!!!” The frantic rush to get back home to him ensues. The chaos of this scene reminds me of the scene in the Gospel of Luke.
“Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to the festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:41-46)
I have always thought the story of Jesus being found in the temple was a bit humorous. I have thought about how Mary and Joseph must have felt when they realized he was gone. The frantic and fear that must have set in is any parent’s worst nightmare. However, it’s worse than losing your child in the mall or not being able to find your child in Walmart. Not only did they lose their son, but he happened to be the Messiah. He was God incarnate. They lost God. Whoops. I find it humorous because most of us can relate to turning around and looking for a child in a store and they have wandered off to another aisle. I can imagine Mary thinking, “how am I going to explain to God that I lost Jesus?”
I suppose many of us have felt, at one point in our life, that we have lost God. You may feel that way now. We cannot seem to find Him. Maybe it was that time you lost a loved one and you became angry at God for taking that individual away from you. Perhaps it was the time you lost your job and you had difficulty seeing God anywhere around at the time. We have all had times where we want to scream “God where are you?”
I imagine that being the scene for Mary and Joseph, even for their relatives on the journey with them, as they rushed about the caravan shouting “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus where are you?” They hurry throughout the caravan looking for Jesus and realize he’s nowhere to be found and he’s not with them. He’s gone. We are not told who had the idea to go back to Jerusalem and look in the temple, but someone must have mentioned it. They trace their steps back and head toward Jerusalem. Imagine how frightened Mary must have been for three entire days. The fear is ended when they find him. Where? He was found in the temple.
We are not told a lot about the early life of Jesus. In fact, other than his birth, this is the only part of his childhood that we are given a glimpse into and the rest is silent. With God, everything is for a purpose and a reason, particularly when it comes to Scripture. God ensured this part of the childhood of Jesus was included in the Gospels.
“When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
God promises that when we seek Him with all our heart, just as every bit of body and soul of Mary and Joseph did those three days, then we will find Him. Where did Mary and Joseph find God? In the temple.
If you are searching for God, look toward the Church. If you feel you have lost God in your life, look to the Church. There, you will find Jesus. He is present in the Eucharist. He is present in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He is present in the Holy Mass. He is there. He is about his father’s business, and He is waiting for you to join Him.