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GOSPEL COMMENTARIES


 

 

JESUS LOST IN THE TEMPLE (Luke 2:41-52)

God's will has been clearly expressed to us both in the life and in the teachings of Jesus Christ. His will is expressed in what we commonly refer to as the commands of Christ, summarized in the Beatitudes. 

However, Christ saw to it that these commands are expressed in general terms so that no one, unless he is truly seeking God, could really know God's will through these commands.

Christ's commands are seemingly obvious, such as, to forgive one's enemies. But how do you observe that in very specific cases? Who is your enemy? How do you show him you forgive him without making him proud or give him the wrong signals that you are at fault?

When Christ stayed behind in Jerusalem, the Gospel says, He was with the Doctors asking them questions. The Doctors, by their very title, were men learned in the commands of God. And Christ was not asking them what the commands of God were. Christ was asking them how these commands were to be observed in very specific cases. In other words, Christ was, by His questions, helping the Doctors to reason out from the commands of God how these commands were to be applied in specific cases.

Christ was asking the doctors God's will on specific cases by reasoning out from the general commands. The Catholic Church calls this INTERPRETATION. Though well-versed in the commands of God, the Doctors were unable to reason out correctly and were ignorant of the interpretation. They could not find out God's specific will by reasoning out from God's commands. So Christ, by discreet questions, led them to reason out correctly. And the Gospel says, they were astounded by His answers. What answers? Wasn't Christ asking the questions? Well, they were astounded at Christ's ability to know God's specific will as reasoned out correctly from God's general will. 

It was the same in the case of Joseph and Mary. They knew Christ was the Son of God; they knew they were the parents of Christ, and they knew a lot of other things. But they, too, were held up for our instruction. And so we see that Joseph and Mary knew some will of God but could not understand the will of God pertaining to Christ's staying in Jerusalem without being informed. "Why did you do this? Your Father and I were worried."

And treating His parents in exactly the way He treated the Doctors, Christ, using discreet questions, led them from what they knew to what they did not yet know. "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" And Joseph and Mary, it is said, did not understand. And so Mary, and certainly Joseph, kept all these things in their hearts.  

You see, to know God's specific will, i.e., God's will about the details of our life, needs knowledge of Christ's commands and the ability to reason out correctly from these commands. And when we find out God's specific will, which is usually difficult to understand, and yet obey them, thus treasuring God's will in our hearts, then we will eventually understand and become certain of God's will for us. 

For us Catholics, the Fathers of the Church have reasoned things out from the commands of Christ in the New Testament. We just have to meditate on their writings. And see how astounding the things they say are; because from the writings of these, commonly called the tradition of the Church, we can know God's will even on the most specific details of our lives.  

 

 

 

 

(09-01-02)

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