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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Luke 2:40–52]

NOW Mary and Joseph went every year to Jerusalem to celebrate the Pasch. When Jesus was twelve years old, He accompanied His parents to the holy city.

The festival days being over, Mary and Joseph set out for their distant home; but the Child Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents knew it not. They thought, at first, that He was in the company of some of their relatives, and so they journeyed a whole day without noticing His absence, But when evening came, they looked for Him, and, not finding Him, were overwhelmed with grief.

They returned immediately to Jerusalem, and during three days sought Him through the city, but in vain; no one had seen the Child. At length, on the third day, they went to the Temple, and there they found Him, sitting in the midst of the doctors of the law, hearing them and asking them questions. All the doctors were astonished at His wisdom and His answers.

Mary and Joseph were filled with wonder and joy at seeing Him again, and His Mother said to Him: “Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.” But He answered: “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But “they understood not the word that He spoke to them.” And rising, He went with his mother (who “kept all these words in her heart”) and His foster-father to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And Jesus increased in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.

The Two Natures in Jesus Christ. Our Lord is at once true God and true Man. The foregoing story manifests both His natures to us. As Man, Jesus was the Child of Mary; as Man, He increased in age, and with time developed into boyhood, youth and manhood. Each of the foregoing chapters testify also to Jesus being true God, though we have hitherto seen the Incarnate Son of God in a state of humility, poverty, and persecution, and have heard no word proceed from His mouth. In this last chapter we hear Jesus speak for the first time, and His words are words of superhuman wisdom, and bear most clear testimony to His divine nature. As soon as Jesus had completed His twelfth year, He was an adult in spiritual matters, so now, for a time, He withdrew Himself from the protection of His parents, and came forward, according to the will of His Father, as a teacher of the law, and allowed a few gleams of His divine wisdom to escape Him, thus preparing the way for His future public appearance as fulfiller of the law and prophets. He Himself refers directly to His divine nature by the words: “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” He calls God His Father, and thus proclaims Himself to be the Son of God. This was our Lord’s first declaration of His Divinity.

Obedience (4th Commandment). Until He was thirty years old, Jesus practised the most complete obedience towards His Mother and foster-father. He did as they bade Him; He helped His Mother in her household work, and served Joseph as an apprentice in his laborious trade of carpenter. Meditate well on this: Who was obedient, and to whom? The Creator to the creature, the Lord to the servant, the Son of God to man! And in what was He obedient? In everything. For how long? For as long as He dwelt with Mary and Joseph, namely thirty years. And why did Jesus, the Eternal Son of God, practise such obedience? 1. That through His perfect obedience He might make satisfaction for the disobedience of sinful man. 2. In order to give a great example of obedience to all children and inferiors.

Piety. The example of Jesus, who went to the Feast at Jerusalem and remained for three days in the Temple, shows us that we ought to like to be in the house of God, to listen attentively to His word and the expounding of it, to busy ourselves with the things of God and to avoid all distractions.

Industry. Jesus worked, and has thereby made work holy, and taught us to work willingly, each one at his own business, and to be ashamed of no kind of labour. Industry is a virtue, and sloth one of the deadly sins.

Growth in holiness. Finally, Jesus, by His hidden life at Nazareth, teaches us that, as we advance in years, so also ought we to advance in wisdom and grace with God and man. We grow in wisdom if we get to know God and His holy will better, by means of religious instruction, sermons and spiritual reading. We grow in grace or favour with God by good works, and especially by prayer and a worthy reception of the holy Sacraments. Grace or favour with men we gain by brotherly love, friendliness, gentleness and unselfishness.

Zeal for God’s Glory. Mary and Joseph went every year to the Temple at Jerusalem. Mary was not bound to do so, but she did it, because it was a work pleasing to God. The example of Mary and Joseph ought to teach us to be obedient to the law of God and zealous for His glory. God still imposes commands on us through His holy Church—to hear Mass on Sundays and Holydays &c. &c.

The Holy Family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) in the house at Nazareth is a model held up for the imitation of all families. Love, unity and peace reigned there; no sound of discord, no evil word could be heard. The days passed by in work and prayer, and while the members of this Holy Family were occupied with their labour, they raised their hearts to God. Towards their neighbours they were modest, friendly and helpful, taking every opportunity of doing good to others.

The loss of Jesus. Mary lost Jesus through no fault of her own; but with what sorrow she sought Him, with what joy she found Him! We lose Jesus through our own fault when we separate ourselves from Him by mortal sin. This is the greatest of all misfortunes, for he who has lost Jesus, has lost all, and can never be happy without Him. He to whom this misfortune has happened must seek Jesus with sorrow and tears of penance, and he will find Him again in the Temple (His Church), if he will reconcile himself to God by a good and contrite confession.

APPLICATION. Do you like going to the house of God? Have you never, of your own fault, neglected the services of God? And how do you behave in church when you are there, and how do you listen to the sermon?

As a Christian child you ought to follow the example of Jesus Christ. But how can you be a follower of Him, if you are not obedient to your parents and superiors? Obedience is for you the first and most necessary virtue; and if you will not obey those who stand to you in the place of God, you are not worthy of the name of Christian. How has it been with you hitherto in this respect? Have you always obeyed your parents and superiors both exactly and promptly? If on any future occasion you are told to do something which is distasteful to you, say to yourself: “Jesus, I will do this for love of Thee.”








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