The Daily Offices

The Daily Offices from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, (Canada 1962), including daily Bible readings and occasional sermons from the Cathedral of the Annunication of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Mary and Joseph, St. Luke tells us, lost Jesus. For three whole days they searched. And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. And when they saw Him, they were amazed: and His mother said unto Him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

The words of a distraught mother who thought she might never again see her beloved child, her anguish probably bringing back to the forefront of her mind the importance of her charge.

Now I am one of those simple people who tries not to read things into Scripture that are not there. I am way too ignorant to take such a risk. But this passage, especially in the context of the season of Epiphany is so wonderfully revealing that I felt the need to speak about it.

Jesus is at the tender age of twelve and the Gospel narratives tell us virtually nothing about His first twelve years, since the great event of His Nativity. We recall, almost above all else that in His birth He came among us in great humility, not so much because He was born in a stable among animals and in the presence of no one but His mother and step father. Rather the humility was signified because of the fact that God took upon Himself the mantle of human flesh.

Now, at the age of 12, we find a young boy who still exhibits that humility, but who also and most dramatically, exudes a particular confidence.

And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought me. Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

That is a truly remarkable declaration. The twelve year old Jesus knew with complete certainty who He was and why He was on this earth, which is why this incident is recorded for us by St. Luke. It reminds us of Our Lord’s divinity. It reveals to us the extent to which the boy Jesus must have spent His time in prayer with His Father. And it shows us that Jesus was constantly, patiently, diligently preparing for His ministry and His final Redemptive acts.

But St. Luke tells us so much more. His writing is a great call for submission to the will of God the Father. Jesus declares with an astounding lack of doubt that He knows who His real Father is and that God the Father’s Business is His business. I don’t know about you, but I would be busting to get on with that business.

Jesus does not do that, or if He does, He suppresses His urges. What Our Lord does is submit Himself to the authority of His parents, showing again that perfect humility which so characterizes His Incarnation.

V.51 says, And He went down with them and was subject unto them. Jesus was obedient to Joseph and Mary. Most important, however, is that Jesus was obedient to the will of the Father. It was the Father’s will that Jesus should spend the next 18 years, as He had spent the previous 12, in quiet obscurity.

It was not the Father’s plan to follow Redemption’s dawn with Redemption’s final act. Why, is far too deep a question for me and is perhaps even a mystery which cannot be truly resolved in this life.

Our Blessed Lord was content to wait.

So must the faithful Christian accept the yoke of patience; be obedient to God’s command to, Be still and know that I am God, Ps.46:10. Sanctification is a slow process, at least for most of us. We cannot ever rush God; we have no pressure to bring to bear on Him. Our Lord waited for 30 years for His Father in Heaven to send Him on His three short years of mission.

Whatever mission or tasks are in God’s plan for us, will be revealed in God’s time. Our prayers will be answered in God’s time. All we can do is pray, as Jesus prayed, be patient as He was patient, prepare, as He prepared, so that someone may perhaps say of us, as St. Luke says of Jesus, He increased in wisdom, and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Peter Jardine+
Epiphany I, 2006