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Saturday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time. The reading is from Gospel of Luke 2:41-52.

The Boy Jesus in the Temple by Grant Romney Clawson

The Boy Jesus in the Temple – Luke 2:41-52

Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to 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, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”

And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

But they did not understand what he said to them.

He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.

And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

This story of Boy Jesus in the Temple is an incident from Jesus’ youth and is unique in the canonical gospel tradition. Jesus is presented here as a Jewish boy, raised in the traditions of Israel, and wise enough to discuss religious matters with the teachers in the temple. Jesus’ infancy narrative ends just as it began, in the setting of the Jerusalem temple.

In Luke 2:49 we read,

  • And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Here the phrase “must be in my Father’s house” can also be translated as “I must be about my Father’s work.” In either translation, Jesus refers to God as his Father. His divine sonship, and his obedience to his heavenly Father’s will, take precedence over his ties to his family.

Feast of the Passover

Passover is a Jewish festival. The Hebrew word פֶּסַח Pesach means “to pass over.” This festival, as recorded in the book of Exodus, is commemorated in rememberance of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Today, the Jewish people not only remember an historic event on Passover, but also celebrate in a broad sense, their freedom as Jews. The Feast of the Unleavened Bread begins the next night after the Passover.

Leviticus declares,

  • The Passover of the LORD falls on the fourteenth day of the first month, at the evening twilight. The fifteenth day of this month is the LORD’s feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. (Leviticus 23:5-6)

When the Pharaoh let the Israelites leave Egypt, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread dough to rise (leaven). In commemoration, for the duration of Passover no leavened bread is eaten, for which reason it is called “The Festival of the Unleavened Bread”.

Deuteronomy 16:1-8 outlines the manner in which the Passover of the LORD should be observed.

Observe the month of Abib by keeping the Passover of the LORD, your God,a since it was in the month of Abib that the LORD, your God, brought you out of Egypt by night.

You shall offer the Passover sacrifice from your flock and your herd to the LORD, your God, in the place the LORD will choose as the dwelling place of his name.

You shall not eat leavened bread with it. For seven days you shall eat with it only unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, so that you may remember as long as you live the day you left the land of Egypt; for in hurried flight you left the land of Egypt.

No leaven is to be found with you in all your territory for seven days, and none of the meat which you sacrificed on the evening of the first day shall be kept overnight for the next day.

You may not sacrifice the Passover in any of the communities which the LORD, your God, gives you; only at the place which the LORD, your God, will choose as the dwelling place of his name, and in the evening at sunset, at the very time when you left Egypt, shall you sacrifice the Passover.

You shall cook and eat it at the place the LORD, your God, will choose; then in the morning you may return to your tents.

For six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly for the LORD, your God; on that day you shall do no work.

Abib from Hebrew אביב (abhībh), literally an ear of corn. The name of the month in which the barley harvest fell and is the first month of the Jewish ecclesiastical year, corresponding nearly to the Gregorian March and April. After the Babylonish captivity this month received the Babylonian name of “Nisan.”

And in Exodus we read,

  • You shall keep the feast of Unleavened Bread. As I have commanded you, you must eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for it was then that you came out of Egypt. No one shall appear before me empty-handed. (Exodus 23:15)
  • “You will keep this practice forever as a statute for yourselves and your descendants. Thus, when you have entered the land which the LORD will give you as he promised, you must observe this rite. When your children ask you, ‘What does this rite of yours mean?’ you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice for the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he delivered our houses.’” (Exodus 12:24–27)

Together with Shavuot (“Pentecost”) and Sukkot (“Tabernacles”), Passover is one of the three pilgrimage festivals (Shalosh Regalim) during which the entire Jewish populace historically made a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. So, as God fearing Jews, each year parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem to commemorate the feast of Passover.

  • Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. (Luke 2:41)

The Christian feast of Maundy Thursday finds its roots in the Jewish feast of Passover, the night on which the Last Supper is generally thought to have taken place.

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