By Sarah Streitwieser
The Joy that Mary and Joseph experience when they find Jesus in the temple is not unique to them. Rather, it is an experience that is often repeated in the spiritual life. We are all invited to “find” Jesus – “Seek and you shall find” (Mt. 7:7). Sometimes we find Him already with us; sometimes we have to experience distance or loss before His presence can be perceived.
There are many reasons and purposes for which we might experience a “loss” of Jesus in the spiritual life. Sometimes we create distance by our own sin, concupiscence, or apathy. Or, we may feel spiritually distanced from God during seasons of desolation in which God is trying to grow us in some new way. Discernment during these seasons of loss is often difficult; it is challenging to understand what is happening or why distance is occurring.
The experience of feeling the nearness of God again, after such a season of loss, can be overwhelmingly joyful, but it can come with questions too. Consider the description of the interaction between Jesus and His parents after they found Him in the temple:
When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. (Lk. 2: 48-50, emphasis added)
I am reminded again here of the personhood of Mary and Joseph. They are not single faceted characters; rather, they are living, breathing, and feeling people. Even in their holiness and perfection, even in their total devotion to Lord and Son, they do not fully understand. Their joy comes with question, and their question comes with trust.
Reflect on a time in your own life when you have felt distance from God. What joy did you experience when the season ended? What other emotions did you experience along with joy?
For more on the Joy of finding Jesus, click the link below. Share your prayer with your family, and come back next week for something new!