Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Fifth Joyful Mystery

Him Whom Thou Didst Find in the Temple
The Finding in the Temple

We come at last to the final mystery of the Joyful chaplet, which is one that can suffer from many of the same tendencies as the previous mystery. It is one of those after-Christmas mysteries, and it sometimes gets difficult to focus after the emotional high of the Nativity. All sorts of songs have been written about the birth of Christ, but how many about the finding in the temple?

Let us remind ourselves of the events upon which we are meditating in this decade. Take a moment to read the passage starting at Luke 2:41.

A first thought is this: we're not talking going to the mall and losing track of your kid for a little bit. Mary and Joseph didn't realize that Jesus was not in the caravan until a full day's travel away from Jerusalem, after which they returned (another day), and spent three days looking for Him.

5 days.

I can only imagine the fear and anxiety. This is their beloved son. This is the Son of God. He's been missing for 5 days...

I wonder, was Mary anxious that she had somehow imagined it all? After all, this child was to be the Messiah, which couldn't very well happen if he was gone. I suspect not, but she does say that she was anxious, and all mothers tend to be concerned for the well being of their children, no matter how capable they are, or such has been my observation and experience.

As for Joseph, these events are the source of both his 7th Joy and his 7th sorrow in the traditional prayer. As many have expounded on the prayer, how great the sorrow at having lost the Christ, and yet how great the joy at finding Him again, safe, in the temple, conversing with the rabbis.

Yet I can't help but wonder that maybe there was an 8th sorrow here for Joseph also. Upon expressing their anxiety to Jesus, he replies, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"

Should not His father's house been their family home in Nazareth, where Jesus was learning Joseph's trade?

But what they did not realize is that Jesus was telling them that He must be in His Father's house. The temple is His home, because He truly is God.

The verse that occurs to me is Isaiah 55:6, "Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near." Jesus tells us that He must be in His Father's house. The temple. While, as the Psalmist says in the 24th Psalm, "The earth is the LORD'S and all it holds, the world and those who live there," there is a special presence of God in His temple.

Much like the sacraments, God is not bound to His temple, but His temple is surely bound to Him, and we have assurance from Him that He is present in His Holy temple.

But even more than that, as Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians (6:19a): "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God." Our own bodies are to be temples of God. Our hearts are to be where Christ is found. If our heart is the Father's house, then does not Christ assure us that He will dwell therein?

Does He not tell us that if our body is the temple of the God (for the Holy Spirit IS God), that He will be present, speaking the Word of Truth in our hearts, communicating Himself in us?

Almighty Father,
Send your Son into our hearts,
And make them temples of the Holy Spirit,
That where we are, you may be found.
Bind us to yourself, and remain with us always.
This we ask in the name of your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God,
Forever and Ever.

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