The Finding of Jesus in the Temple is the Mystery of Presence, of the certain presence of God.
The Fifth Joyful Mystery is the finding of Jesus in the Temple. We all know the story: Mary and Joseph had taken Jesus with them to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, most likely along with a great host of others; and the feast being complete they started for home, again in a great throng. They assumed that Jesus was with their friends or relations…and then realized he wasn’t.
We parents know how it feels to misplace a child. It’s scary. But Jesus was twelve years old, which I suspect was a much more mature age in that time and place than it is now; he’d certainly be working with his father on a daily basis, helping to support his family. This isn’t quite the same as losing a 21st-century American tween at Disneyland. Still, they needed to find him, and had to go to quite a bit of effort, looking all up and down the caravan, and finally retracing their steps to the Temple.
And there he was, in his Father’s house.
My reflections on the first four Joyful mysteries have all focussed on receiving Christ, and then carrying Him with us wherever we go. In the Annunciation, we accept Him, and his commands. In the Visitation, we take Him with us as we serve in charity. In the Nativity, we learn how He trusts us to go about his business. In the Presentation, we learn how He can accomplish great things by our willingness to bring him along, great things we had no inkling of before they occurred—and, in many cases, no inkling of afterwards, either.
The Finding of Jesus in the Temple is different. It isn’t about carrying Jesus with us; it’s about what we do when we realize that we’ve left Him behind.
Mary and Joseph retraced their steps to the Temple, His Father’s house: because where else would He be? And we can do the same: every Sunday, every weekday, we can find Christ in His Father’s house, present to us in the Blessed Sacrament. When necessary, we can receive absolution in the Sacrament of Confession.
There’s no mystery about where to go to find Christ. Even if I can’t feel His presence right here (though, of course, He is right here) I always know I can find Him at mass.
How have you sought Christ when He seems nowhere present?