Day 13: The Pains of Parenting

It’s Sunday, and we’re back at the MAC (Immaculate Conception) for the 8 AM Latin Low Mass. The church is still decorated with wreaths and Christmas trees as today marks the end of Christmastide. I guess I don’t have to feel bad that our tree and outdoor decorations are still up at home.

Today at the Latin Mass, the gospel is about the finding of Jesus in the temple. Here’s a story that horrifies parents. Your family is traveling in a large group from Jerusalem back to your home village after Passover. At some point, you realize your child isn’t with you. Not with your relatives, not with your friends. He simply is not in the group. So you trek back to Jerusalem to find him. You spend three days running around Jerusalem looking for your child until you eventually find him in the temple talking with the rabbis. And here’s the kicker. You approach him and ask, rightfully so, why he basically gave you a heart attack. And he says you should have known he’d be doing his father’s business.

So what do you do if your Mary and Joseph? Grab him by the ear and scold him all the way back to the caravan? Ground him when you get back to Nazareth? Tell him he has to spend some extra hours working in his father’s carpentry shop to make up for the time you’ve lost? Or just thank the rabbis for keeping him all this time and quietly head back home?

Parenting is tough, but imagine parenting Jesus.

This is one of the only stories about Jesus as a child. I want to know more. Did he have friends? Did he like to play outside? Did he ever refuse to eat something Mary made for dinner? Did he ever have a temper tantrum? Was he always very Jesus-like, or was he for the most part your average child?

Nazareth. A few years ago, archaeologists found a structure in the city that they say might have been the home of the young Jesus and his family.

Maybe Jesus’ childhood was really ordinary. Perhaps the temple story is the only extraordinary detail of his formative years. I suppose, but the writer and editor in me find this story incomplete. With such a compelling character at the heart of the tale, how could you not be curious about his early life, and how his parents handled raising such an important child? I want to know the whole story. Details, please!

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