Sunday Scriptures

Luke’s Gospel Reads Like A Mother’s Love Letter

By Father John P. Cush

The Gospel passage presented to us today is taken from the second chapter of the Gospel according to Saint Luke. Recall that, in our Catholic tradition, it is thought that the main source of the information on the life of Christ Jesus in Luke’s Gospel comes from the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ Jesus. Perhaps this is why the narrative which is presented to us for our reflection is so detailed and so personal. It is, in many ways, only a story that a parent, a mother or a father, could tell later on about their child.

In this passage, we read that, having gone to Jerusalem with his parents for the feast of the Passover, the twelve year old Jesus disappears from their watch. Recall also that the last time in the Gospel we had heard about Jesus, he was only a newborn child and that the next time we hear about him, he is already a man about thirty years old, about to begin his public ministry.

Yes, the boy Jesus departs from the side of his parents, almost in a way prefiguring the manner in which he would leave home in Nazareth to announce his Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God. Where do his worried parents eventually find the young Messiah? Where else but “his Father’s house,” the Temple of Jerusalem, the place which the nation of Israel believed to be the holiest of holy places, the place that in times past contained the Ark of the Covenant, lost now in Israelite antiquity, its final disposition lost to one of the land’s many conquerors.

However, the Temple is filled again today with the glory of the Lord, with something, no- someone far greater than the Ark of the Covenant. In the physical structure which held the Holy of Holies stands the Holy One of God, God himself made flesh for us and for our salvation. And what is the young Messiah doing in the Temple area when Joseph and the Blessed Virgin discover him? He who is the wisdom from on high is teaching the teachers, exposing them to true teaching by his presence.

Jesus, we are told, “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.” We should stop and wonder about what do we as the Catholic Church believe about the knowledge of Jesus. The sure and certain guide that is the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#472-474) clearly explains:

This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man”, and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience. This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave”.

But at the same time, this truly human knowledge of God’s Son expressed the divine life of his person. “The human nature of God’s Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God.”

By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal. What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal.

Being the Messiah did not come as a surprise to Jesus! No, Jesus is Lord, he is God made flesh, and he is the savior of the world. Today’s Gospel demonstrates that the Holy One of God when he visits the Temple and instructs the teachers of the Law replaces the Holy of Holies. Jesus is fully human and fully divine. He is one divine Person with two natures, human and divine, a man like us in all things but sin. Never lose sight of the Saving Divinity of the Son of God, the Word made Flesh, the Splendor of the Father.

Readings for The Holy Family

1 Samuel: 1:20-22, 24-28

1 John: 3:1-2, 21-24

Luke: 2:41-52

Father Cush is a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn who serves as Academic Dean of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy, and as a professor of Theology and Church History at the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Pontifical University of Santa Croce, also in Rome.