|Jesus found in Temple – Tissot|
III. THE LOSS OF THE HOLY CHILD
Five years had passed since the Return from Egypt, and Jesus was now twelve years old. Mary The Third and Joseph went up to Jerusalem " for Dolour. the solemn day of the Passover," (Luke ii.,41.) and their Divine Child was with them. When the solemnities had been duly celebrated, all prepared to go home. The various groups went at different hours, by different gates, the men travelling in one caravan, the women in another. During the first day's journey our Lady thought that Jesus was with St. Joseph. St. Joseph thought that He was with His Mother. But at night it was discovered that He was not in the company and nowhere could be found. With sorrowing hearts Mary and Joseph returned to the Holy City, searching for their Son.
One human sorrow our Blessed Lady could not endure—the sorrow that comes directly from the sense of personal sin. But now she was destined to come as near to this deepest of sorrows as was possible for the sinless Virgin. Mary questioned herself again and again as to whether the loss of her Child had been due to any fault of hers. Had she perhaps been careless or negligent, or in any way failed in the Trust that had been committed to her keeping ? There was also the ever-present, the racking thought : What had happened to Jesus ? He was still young. Voluntarily, He had put away the power to defend Himself with the strength of manhood. As Child and Boy, He was under her care and Joseph's. And now where was He ? What evil chance had perchance befallen Him ? Tormented, heartbroken with anxiety, Mary and Joseph searched for three long days, until at last they found Him—their son of twelve years old— disputing in the Temple, amongst the doctors of the Law! " And it came to pass that after three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions." (Luke ii. 46.) Mary and Joseph approached their Child, full of wonder, since He had given them no sign that He would thus break off, for the moment, from the state of filial subjection to which He had, until then, submitted Himself. " His Mother said to Him : ' Son, why hast Thou done so to us ? Behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.' " Their sorrow had indeed been turned into joy at the sight of the Beloved; yet the reaction from the suffering of the three days' loss was well-nigh intolerable. Denis the Carthusian observes that our Lady did not blame Jesus by her question; but gave vent to a loving complaint— amoroso, conquestio. Such complaints, far from displeasing God, are always dear to Him. His servant Job thus complained to God; thus complained Jesus Himself upon the Cross. But it was still the hour of our Lady's Sorrows; still was she to be tried as gold in the furnace.
Our Lord replied to His Blessed Mother: " How is it that you sought Me ? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's Business ?" And the hearts of Mary and Joseph were yet heavy, for " they understood not the word that He spoke unto them." Soon, however, the cloud was lifted; for we read immediately in the sacred narrative that which even as we read it sounds almost incredible: " He went down to Nazareth and was subject to them." Who was it that was subject, and to whom was He subject ? Jesus was subject to Mary and Joseph. God subject to His creatures, to the work of His Hands. With these wondrous words the Evangelist closes his account of the Loss and Finding in the Temple, adding only—for the second time insisting on the fact—that " His Mother kept all these words in her heart" (Luke ii. 51 ; cf. ii. 19.)
In this Dolour the Holy Virgin so played her part as to become the great example of all her children who are tried by what seems to be the loss of our Lord when God veils His Face, and seems not to answer them, and desolation unspeakable afflicts their spirit. She searched patiently, she waited, she gave utterance to the cry of her wounded heart; when the mysterious answer came, she silently committed all to God, and then, suddenly, the sun broke through the clouds, as in His visible Presence, the Lord who had never really abandoned her, was with her once more. In all mystic afflictions of the soul Mary has earned the right, in virtue of her Dolours, to the title with which the Church invokes her as Consolatrix Afflictorum, the Consoler of all the Afflicted, who implore her to help them to bear the cross that (though it endure but for a day) weighs without mitigation upon the shoulders of those who, alas ! are strangers to the Passion of Christ and the Sorrows of His Mother.