In Luke 2:41-52 we have this curious story about a teenage Jesus. It appears only here in the canon of gospels.
Again, we read of a very Jewish family that makes the pilgrimage to Jerusalem every year for Passover. The implication is that Jesus went as well. They traveled with a large group of family and neighbors.
One year when Jesus was twelve, the text tells us, he went “as usual”. Evidently, he was given some freedom on this trip. He was not tied to his mother or father as they celebrated the Passover festival. It was only in the return home that Mary and Joseph notice that Jesus is not with the group. He is lost. He could be dead for all they know. For three days they searched for him, afraid of the worse I’m sure.
Finally, he is found in the temple among the teachers. He is listening and questioning them.
His mother gives vent to the fear and anxiety his parents have felt at losing him for three days. What was Jesus’ response?
“Why is it that you have been seeking me? Did you not know that I must involve myself in my Father’s affairs?”
Why use “my father’s affairs” and not the better known translation of “my father’s house?”
“Luke never has Jesus call the ‘Temple’ ‘my father’s house’ and although the Temple plays an important role in his narrative, it is a place of activity.” (Luke Johnson, The Gospel of Luke, pg 61)
The Temple building is defined more by its activities – or lack thereof – than as a place of God’s presence. It is the holy acts within the Temple that Jesus has come to participate in among the teachers. The place is only as important as its interactions with the people specifically, the poor, the widows, the orphans and the unclean.
Dear God, help us to be Temples of your Holy Spirit in motion. Let us be temples of holy activity. Amen.