Of Jerusalem and Nazareth

GOD’S WORD TODAY - Jonjee C. Sumpaico, S.J. (The Philippine Star) - December 30, 2012 - 12:00am

“For in the mystery of the Word made flesh a new light of your glory has shone upon the eyes of our mind, so that, as we recognize in him God made visible, we may be caught up through him in love of things invisible.”– Excerpt from “Preface of the Nativity of the Lord”

On this feast of the Holy Family, I begin with the words said during Christmastime at the holy sacrifice of the mass. I find this important as God, in his great love, brings to our realities his promise of being Emmanuel ‑ God with us. Humanity encounters God’s presence as God shares life’s circumstances with us — a daily reality that we often take for granted.

It might also be interesting to note that in the Gospel reading of Jesus’ Losing and Finding in the Temple, there are two movements that we may need to look into: an upward movement, represented by Jerusalem, which points to God, and a downward movement, represented by Nazareth, which points to man.

In the reading, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem from Nazareth to fulfill their Passover custom of going to the temple. But as they went home, they both thought that Jesus was with them in the caravan only to realize that they could not find him. They searched for him and retraced their steps back to Jerusalem after a few days only to find out that he was in the temple learning from the teachers of the law.

An exchange between mother and son ensues right after. And this is where we may best begin to see an expressed mixture of the human concern for security and the divine assurance of providence.

“Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”

We are all filled with anxiety. It is the fear of what has not or might not come. It is a type of fear that usually gets us insecure especially if the people who we love are the ones at stake. It is but normal to feel this when we find ourselves left holding the short end of the rope.

When our families are faced with sickness, or financial need, or problems with each other, we search for solutions that seem to have no definite end. We also ask God in our prayers a similar question which Mary spoke, “Why is this happening to us?”

“Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?

Jesus responds to Mary’s question with a question! The reply of Jesus of being in his father’s house seems to be an out-of-this-world answer from someone barely in his teens. It may have been an answer that would have merited a reprimand from the parents for being a “pilosopo” after all the trouble that they have gone through. But his question is also a reminder to the anxious to trust that God will take care of us in our own times, places and circumstances of life.

Can you bring your concerns to the Father’s house so as to bring God in your journey? As we enter a new year in our lives, what moments in your life would you ask God to be part of? What anxiety-filled events may we be able to let go off and let God enter.

By the end of the reading, both Mother and Son may have had an understanding of each other. Jesus, in realizing the daily concerns of Mary and Joseph, “became obedient to them.” Mary, in understanding the reminder of her son,” kept all these things in her heart.”

Our journeys to our Nazareths are our movements of experiencing the day to day challenges of life. Our journeys to our Jerusalems are those encounters where we seek the God’s presence as we invite him into our homes and hearts. It may take time, patience, understanding and even a bit of charity in the process. But our journeys to these places in our lives are the journeys that each faithful believer may have to take.

As “Jesus advance in wisdom, age and favor before God and man,” may your journeys for this year be filled with blessings that will also allow you to advance in a similar manner.

Wishing you all a grace-filled year ahead.

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