We know that, as an adult, zeal for His Father’s House will consume Him. Then He’ll roll up His sleeves and cleanse the Temple of all attempted righteousness by works, and of all the buying and selling of indulgences. And after that He’ll bare His holy arms again, and stretch them out, and sacrifice His Body and Life upon the Cross, in the confidence that His Father will raise Him from the dead. So will His own Body become the Temple of the Living God for you and for all people.
All of these things He has done and accomplished. So you have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight as you hear this story of the twelve-year-old Boy Jesus in the Temple. In that respect, you know more now than He did then. For in a mysterious way that we can hardly fathom, He grew and increased in wisdom: He listened to His teachers, and He learned from them as from His parents.
The little Lord Jesus was catechized by and with the Word of God and prayer in His family’s home and in the liturgical life of Israel, just as you and your children are catechized. He asked questions in order to learn, to make progress in His knowledge and understanding of the Word of God.
Of course, He is the very Word of God made Flesh, and He possesses at all times the holy Wisdom that begins and continues with the fear of the Lord. And yet, He lives a truly human life in the flesh. He lives the life that you and your children have been created to live, which flows with and from the hearing of the Word of the Lord. It is a life that is lived always to and from the Temple.
The Word of God became flesh, conceived and born of St. Mary, in order that His own Body should become the Temple of God by the way of His Cross and Resurrection. To that end, He lives and fulfills your own childhood pattern in His upward journey to the Father on your behalf.
Which means that Mary and Joseph catechized the truly human Son of God entrusted to their care. They did for Him what your parents have done for you, and what you parents are called and commanded to do for your children. Not only did they feed and clothe His Body and teach Him what He would need to know for temporal life in this world. They also taught Him the Bible; they took Him to church; they brought Him to see His pastors; they prayed and worshiped with Him.
St. Mary and St. Joseph weren’t perfect. They were righteous and holy by the grace of God, by faith in His Gospel. But, like you, they made mistakes. They got frustrated, worried, scared, and impatient. They were astonished by their Son, and they did not always understand Him. Yet, they lived within their calling to be His parents. So they taught Him, and He learned from them.
So did He increase in His knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
And so did the Lord Jesus also learn from the Feast of the Passover, to which His parents brought Him faithfully each year. He learned that every firstborn male is the Lord’s. In truth, all of God’s people are His own children; He has not only created them but has redeemed them for Himself. Nevertheless, the firstborn sons are His in a pointed and particular way. For the firstborn sons of Israel were spared in the Exodus, when the Passover Lamb was put to death in their place.
Thus, as we have heard this past Sunday, the infant Christ Child was presented to the Lord in the Temple when He was six weeks old, according to the Law of the Lord, because He was the firstborn Son of His Mother Mary. He was consecrated to the Lord, His God and Father. His Body and Life were dedicated to holy service.
And now He knows, at the age of twelve, that sons belong in their Father’s House at the Passover. For that is what the Feast requires. And He has listened to the rites and ceremonies of that sacred Feast. He has learned from the Liturgy. He has taken the Word and promises of God to heart.
He belongs in the Temple, as a Son at His Father’s Table. And in time, when His Hour has come, He will Himself be the Lamb that His Father gives for the entire Household and Family of God.
Which is why, dear child of God, that you also belong here in your Father’s House, gathered here around His Table, no matter how “grown up” you may be (or think you are). You belong to the Holy Family of God, and the Lamb who has lived your life has also been sacrificed for you.
Therefore, let us keep the Feast to which the Lord invites us. For here in His Body is the Temple of your own dear God and Father, in which you now abide unto the life everlasting. For the flesh of Christ feeds you and nurtures you for life, and His Blood covers and protects you from death.
The Lord your God, the Father’s Son, has come down from heaven to abide with you here for a little while, so that you might go up with Him to the heavenly Jerusalem and live with Him there. Find Him here in the Temple of His Church, in the preaching, teaching, and hearing of His Word, enthroned upon His Altar at the center of His Kingdom — the Lamb who was slain, and yet, behold, He lives and reigns for evermore and evermore.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.