daily biblical sermons


Jesus was uniquely dedicated to his heavenly Father for the world's salvation, even from his earliest days
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Saturday, the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, June 20, 2020
Isaiah 61:9-11, Psalm 89, Luke 2:41-51


 

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

“After three days they [Mary and Joseph] found him [the child Jesus] in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.’ And he said to them, ‘How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’” (Luke 2:46-49).

 

 

This is a striking passage, for it shows the child Jesus at the age of twelve demonstrating “a high degree of independence of earthly ties,” which “stresses the priority of his duty to his Father” (note on Luke 2:49 in the Ignatius Bible (RSV)). Jesus is a very special child. He is no ordinary child. And his mother and foster father St. Joseph know this very well from the way he was conceived and born and from all the heavenly signs that accompanied his birth, with angels singing in the heavens, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14 KJV).

 

 

An angel appeared to shepherds in Bethlehem at his birth, saying, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11 KJV).

 

 

Mary his mother knew that he was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, without male seed, for the angel Gabriel announced to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). The angel also told her that her son “will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).

 

 

Surely, then, Mary and Joseph would expect Jesus to act differently than ordinary children, and so we have this first and only event revealed to us of his childhood after his infancy, in which, without consulting his parents, he decides to remain behind in Jerusalem in the temple asking questions of and conversing with the teachers. It took Mary and Joseph a whole day to realize that he was not with the returning caravan to Nazareth, since they figured that he was probably with their relatives or maybe with some young people his own age, but when night time came, and everyone returned to their own family to eat and sleep, Jesus was nowhere to be found.

 

 

And so on the next day Mary and Joseph had to return alone to Jerusalem and search everywhere for him. They finally found him in the temple, and when they asked him why he did this to them, he replied, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

 

 

Jesus is so intent on his mission as the Savior of the world that even at this young age it was clear to him, when he saw the temple, perhaps for the first time since his infancy, he was immediately struck that this is where he belongs, for this is why he has come into the world as the Son of God. He must be in his Father’s house and about his Father’s business, and his Father is God in a literal sense, which made him God’s only Son, and the only human being who could literally call God his father, for Jesus also was God, equal in divinity to his Father, just as a human child is equal in humanity to his human father.

 

 

Jesus, it seems, knew instinctively that this was his life, namely to be on the mission that his Father had given him to save the world. “The main, and principal part of his business, was to work out salvation for his people, by fulfilling the law, by making reconciliation and atonement for their sins, and obtaining eternal redemption: this was a business which neither angels nor men could do; it was very toilsome and laborious, and yet he delighted in it; nor did he desist from it until it was accomplished: and this is called his Father’s business, because he contrived and assigned it to him” (John Gill, 1697-1771).

 

 

This independence from earthly ties and from his family for the sake of fulfilling the mission of his Father to save the world is something that was characteristic of Jesus in his adult life also and appears in many of his sayings. He also expected his own disciples to have complete devotion to him and great independence from their earthly families in order to do so. He said to a potential disciple, “‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my Father.’ But he said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:59-60).

 

 

For Jesus, family ties and obligations must definitely take second place or be left to others to fulfill both for his own life and for that of his disciples. Their call was to go now and preach the gospel. As Jesus left his family and remained behind in Jerusalem as a twelve-year-old boy, without notifying his parents, so when he called a potential disciple who first wanted to say goodbye to his folks at home, Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

 

 

We must be ready even to leave family to be a disciple of Jesus, for he said, “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). For his disciples, service of the Lord by serving Jesus must come before family obligations and ties.

 

 

Jesus tells us, “Every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). Jesus takes priority over family and earthly ties. So he remained behind in Jerusalem without even telling his parents.

 

 

He asked his own disciples to leave their parents and follow him, for he saw the two brothers, “James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him” (Matthew 4:21-22).

 

 

Jesus even said to great multitudes, “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-26).

 

 

Not only does Jesus tell us that we must give him top priority in our life and that our family must take second place, but he even says, “Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

 

 

He even gives the crowd of disciples listening to him priority over his own mother and brethren, because the crowd is listening to the word of God and doing it. That makes them at least equal to his own personal family. “Then his mother and his brethren came to him, but they could not reach him for the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brethren are standing outside, desiring to see you.’ But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it’” (Luke 8:19-21).

 

 

On another occasion Jesus made the same point. “A woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” (Luke 11:27-28).

 

 

Jesus even warned us that believing in him would divide families, for perhaps the son would be a disciple, but the father would refuse to believe in Jesus. So the two will be set against each other. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household” (Matthew 10:34-36).

 

 

Jesus and his followers clearly put God and the preaching of the gospel first. All else is secondary to Jesus and to a true disciple.

 

 

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