First Sunday after Epiphany
January 9, 2022 A+D
St. Luke 2: 41-52
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The main emphasis of Jesus’ appearance in the Temple when He was 12 is Christological. Luke records this for us because he wants us to know that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity has not become a Man in order to visit earth for His own amusement. He is utterly unlike the pagan gods. He is here on His Father’s business, as one of His Father’s sacrificial things. Despite the fact that He has humbled Himself and does not always and fully His Divine attributes as a Man, already at the age of twelve He knows what He is to be about, what He is for, and how His Father will use Him.
This knowledge might have come by a partial exercise of His Divine powers, but it is more likely that it came about from a careful reading of Holy Scripture and from seeing the Temple in action. Unhindered by sin and selfishness, Jesus could more easily understand God’s Word as given by the prophets. He wasn’t hung up on trying to excuse Himself or find an easy way.
Now, to be sure, there is something of a rebuke of Mary here. She and Joseph neglected Jesus and left Him behind. When she finally finds Him she not only exposes her ignorance of His mission, which He expects she should have known, but she also lashes out at Him, blaming Him for her and Joseph’s pain. His response demonstrates a higher allegiance to His heaven Father and His mission than to Mary and Joseph, but the two relationships are not in competition. The God of the 1st commandment is also the author of the 4th. Jesus is obedient to Mary and Joseph. They are His real, albeit imperfect, parents. Through them His Father provides for Him. It was they who rightly taught Him the Law and brought Him to Jerusalem for Passover.
The fact that He suffers from imperfect, less than all-wise parents, and also that He loves them and they love Him. They are imperfect and sometimes make mistakes based on their own selfishness, but they are not abusive. Jesus does manage to grow in stature and knowledge. That ought to comfort us all. Our parents weren’t perfect either. Neither are we. And even if one of our parents abandoned us or abused us, our Father has provided for us. He had us baptized. We also managed to grow in stature and knowledge and here we are today by grace. The God of the fourth commandment blesses us through the people He places around us even though they aren’t perfect and neither are we. Love covers a multitude of sin. Grace abounds.
My point here is simply that even though the emphasis here is on Jesus’ Divine nature and mission we should not be take that to suggest that Jesus isn’t a real human being or literally the descendent of David through both Mary and Joseph even though He is David’d Lord or even that His Divine nature is more important than His human nature. He is fully and in every way human. Since He is human, He is fit to keep the Law and then be a thing for His Father to sacrifice for the other humans who broke His Law. He is, of course, also true God, in every way equal to the Father and the Spirit. He goes to the cross knowingly and willingly. His human nature makes Him able to keep the Law and to be killed as a sacrifice. His Divine nature makes that sacrifice enough for every man, woman, and child who was ever conceived or will be conceived and enabled Him to finish that payment on the cross completely and then to rise from the dead.
Besides His dedication to His heavenly Father and the mission for which He was sent and His obedience to Mary and Joseph, we might also see in this account include something of Jesus’ willing obedience to the Law, His careful attention to Holy Scripture, and a foreshadowing of His role as Teacher. From all of this, as always, our eyes are drawn to Jesus. St. Mary is a model for our faith. Let us also keep all these things in our hearts.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.