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Gospel according to Luke 2: 41-52 (NIV)
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
Have you noticed that the paradigm with which you first become familiar is the one that contributes most to your forming of or adopting a world view – until a stronger or more relevant or more all-encompassing paradigm forces itself into your consciousness and causes you to formulate a new way of regarding and making sense of the world?
Those who grew up believing that obedience to our parents was of first importance can be challenged by this passage from the Gospel according to Luke and particularly by verse 48. We might take sides with Jesus’ parents and argue that Jesus was inconsiderate, unsensitive and demonstrating immaturity.
But God’s words to Moses which were repeated by Jesus tell us to allow nothing to take precedence over our love towards and obedience to God.
Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6: 4-5).
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ (Matthew 22: 37-40).
Jesus told his parents “I had to be in my Father’s house” (or “about my Father’s business”). He was expressing to them what he knew to be of utmost importance.
We do well to see this passage of Scripture through the eyes of God the Father and God the Son rather through the eyes of his earthly parents. We do well to think on our own priorities and to identify to whom we instinctively give first obedience. Do we revere God ahead of our employers, our community leaders, our own families?
Help us Lord to think on this ahead of the start of the new year and, if appropriate, in the year to come to adjust our priorities so that you take precedence at all times.