As they make their way back from the market they pass a street that leads to the massive temple built by Herod for the Jewish people. Suddenly one of the members of the group, a young man of twelve years old, slows downs and turns to look up the street and through the doorway into the temple. He pauses, sensing something stirring within his soul. His cousins and friends don’t even notice and continue on their way to the inn, but his eyes are intensely fixed on the temple. He was looking forward to breakfast as well, but he consciously makes a choice to follow another longing in his heart. He walks through the gates and into the outer courts, the crowds around him seem hushed in comparison to the voice that calls him in. He looks around at the people and hears the Torah being read by an elderly scribe. He remembers the lamb that he and his family brought to be slaughtered here, in this same temple, only days earlier. A vivid flashback of its throat being slit and the blood running down its body sends a shiver up his spine and causes his heart to race.
Meanwhile, back at the inn where his family members are staying, the older men are noticing the color of the morning sky. “It appears the storm in the north has lifted. Perhaps we can leave this morning as we had first planned.” The others agree. “We’ll gather our things and leave as soon as the young men come back from the market. They shouldn’t be long now.” The young men arrive back at the inn and are informed that the caravan is leaving for Nazareth. As they quickly pack their few belongings one of their aunts brings them a basket of bread and some dried figs.
Back at the temple, the twelve-year-old Galilean is intently listening to the reading of the Scriptures, it’s a portion from the prophet Isaiah speaking about the Servant of the Lord;
“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
The young man notices the crowds are growing and decides to head back to the inn. He leaves the temple and makes his way through the crowded streets. Arriving at the inn where his extended family had been staying he finds it empty. The innkeeper has already locked the door and is nowhere to be found.
Mary runs towards her son. She wants to throw her arms around him, but at the same time, she feels embarrassed and upset by the whole situation. “Son,” she says, stopping just before him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I” she says looking back at Joseph, “have been frantic, searching everywhere for you.” The twelve-year-old looks up at his mother, with a gentle smile and yet with boldness in his eyes and says “But why did you need to search? Didn’t you know that I would have to be getting involved in” he pauses for a second and looks towards the heavens, “in my Father’s work?” Mary and Joseph exchange a confused glance and stand there, unable to respond. Then the 12-year-old, Jesus, gets up and embraces his mother and his earthly father, Joseph. Together they make their way out of the city and begin the journey back to their home in Nazareth. Mary will never forget this day, it has been marked on her heart and will remain there even as her son matures and grows; continually seeking His Father’s will above all else.
(Adapted from Luke 2:40-52)