Strength of Faith
And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Over the months of Ordinary Time, a time dedicated to growth, we focus on how we live out the Christian faith, how we walk in Strength of Faith. We are focusing on our growth in Strength of Faith.
There are several ways of translating what Jesus says to Mary and Joseph. Our scriptures read today recount Jesus saying: “I must be in My Father’s house.” This can also be rendered “I must be about my Father’s business.” Literally, I must be in the things that are My Father’s—i.e., in His work.
It seems odd to us to have a twelve-year-old be so bold as to stay behind in a city of over a million people (especially at festival time), but some context helps.
A Jewish boy reaching the age of twelve, became ‘a son of the Law,’ and took upon himself the religious responsibilities which had previously been his parents.
This marked moment shows Jesus’ maturity and His acceptance of those responsibilities, to learn, to study, to question, and penultimately to do His Father’s will. Jesus asserts that right in staying behind, not to contravene Mary and Joseph, but rather to grab unto an opportunity.
In this opportunity He speaks a few words – His first recorded gospel words – words we are to take to heart and emulate – “I must be about My Father’s business,” I must do His work.
These words cause us to consider more fully not just the where of Jesus’ statement, Hey, I’ve got to hang out in the Temple because… but rather the what of His statement.
When Jesus says “must” He says that His doing is the on-going accomplishment of the necessary appointed work of the Father. He accepts His Father’s commands and continues forward in carrying out His duty.
We, as the Christian family are called to be more than a presence in a place, church on Sundays. We are called to also share and increase the love of family between ourselves and in the world. We are to act in Strength of Faith in the carrying out of our kingdom mission, opening God’s loving family just as Jesus showed us.
The ties and connection of family go beyond place to the life – style we live. How do we style our lives? If we style them to be about our heavenly Father’s business, to doing His work, what we do in a place on Sunday, the worship, praise, and learning, bears fruit Monday through Saturday in the doing. We live and do as Jesus lived and did. We are in the Father’s work.