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Gospel for Sunday, December 26: Luke 2: 41-52

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

41His parents went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover festival. 42When he was twelve years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival. 43But, after the days, while they resumed their journey back, the boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, without his parents realizing it. 44Believing that he was in the group, they traveled for a day and then began looking for him among their relatives and acquaintances; 45Not having found him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and questioning them 47And all who heard him were amazed at his intelligence and his answers. 48When they saw him they were amazed, and his mother said to him: “Son, why have you done this to us? Behold, your father and I, anxious, were looking for you.” 49And he answered them: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”. 50But they did not understand what he had told them. 51So he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. His mother kept all these things in his heart. 52And Jesus grew in wisdom, age and grace before God and men.

Luke 2: 41-52

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.



  1. What strikes us first and foremost about the life of Jesus in the family is the absolute primacy of God over every other value and affection. Since he was a boy, at the age of twelve, when he “runs away from home”, or rather, he abandons his parents to stay in the Temple of Jerusalem to discuss with the doctors. He could have at least warned the parents: we certainly don’t think that the Madonna and Saint Joseph would have opposed the fact that their Son … wanted to stay “in Church”. But Jesus does not warn them, certainly not playing the part of the model son. The fact caused strong apprehension in Mary and Joseph, to the point that Mary reproaches him: “Son, why have you done this to us? Behold, your father and I were anxiously looking for you” (Luke 2:48). Jesus responds by announcing the absolute primacy of the things of the Father over everything, including family ties: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). Obviously the parents were stunned: “But they did not understand what he said” (Lk 2.59). “Here we can already glimpse the Master making the choices of his mission without allowing himself to be influenced by the interference of his family. His autonomy is not the result of an attitude of self-sufficiency or contempt for a human condition that evolves and grows in family and emotional relationships, but is the expression of his unique relationship with God… It is an expression of the new and shocking reality that the Christian faith has made us perceive in the ordinary and daily fabric of a human existence: the only Son of God” (R. Fabris). Jesus does not just want to underline the uniqueness of his relationship with the Father: since he was a boy, Jesus begins with paradoxical gestures and words to underline that the love of God and for God must for everyone prevail over every other relationship. Every child must have no other reference than the unique Paternity of God (Mt 23.9).
  2.  The episode (2.41-51) is a prophecy of the second journey that Jesus will make to Jerusalem, the one for his Passion and Resurrection (19.28): in both cases Jesus stays in the temple (2.46->19 ,47; 21,37; 22,53), during Easter (2,41->22,1; 23,54); both times there is pain for him (Joseph and Mary in anguish because they have lost him: 2,43.45.48; the disciples “sad” (24,17) for his death); Joseph and Mary seek him (2.22), the disciples also seek him (24.5); his parents find him “after three days” (2.46) in his “Father’s house” (2.49), “on the third day” (24.7.46) Jesus is resurrected (24.6.46) and ascends to heaven (24 ,51).
  3. Mary is an example of a non-apprehensive mother: she looks for her son only after a day of his absence, “believing him to be in the caravan” (Lk 2,44): how many of us would not have moved before, perhaps even just going to take a look, to see if the son needed anything? When she finds him again, she has no problem scolding him, gently but firmly: this is an aspect that biblical commentators generally leave out, embarrassed. But Mary is very determined to remind Jesus that her “escape” was an offense to family harmony: “Son, why did you do this to us?” (Lk 2.48): note that “ci”, which underlines that Jesus’ gesture had had precise implications on the family, becoming a source of “anguish” for the parents… Then Mary shows herself to be a delicate wife, putting, in the reproach to Jesus, Joseph’s anxiety to his: “Behold, your father and I were anxiously looking for you” (Lk 2:48).
  4. Mary is a non-possessive mother, ready to accept the mystery of her son’s vocation even without understanding it: “When they saw him they were amazed… They did not understand her words” (Lk 2,48.50). Throughout Jesus’ public life, Mary remained “outside” (Mt 12.46), so as not to interfere with the mission of her son.
  5.  Mary is the model of the believer: she experiences the silence of God, she searches for God anxiously (Lk 2.48), she does not understand his plan (Lk 2.50), she questions him forcefully (Lk 2.48); she is the believer treated by God with “harshness” (Lk 2,41-51; 8,21; 11,27-28); she is the believer called to understand that God is “other”, and that he is only entitled to obedience in faith.
  6. Mary is a model of listening: servant of the Word (Lk 1,38), “she kept (sunetèrei) all these things, meditating on them in her heart… Her mother kept (dietèrei) all these things in her heart” (Lk 2,19.51). Mary is an example of listening, ruminated (meditatio), contemplated (contemplatio), prayed for (oratio), announced, obeyed and put into practice (Lk 8,19-21; 11,27-28). She is fundamental for Israel to “preserve” and “guard” the Word of God: these two verbs are, in the Bible, specifications of the dimension of listening.
  7. Mary is a woman of total obedience: “Let it be to me as you have said” (Lk 1,38); “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2.5): she is therefore the type of a true disciple. Her greatness lies not so much in her physical motherhood, but in her full following of God: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of the words of the Lord” (Lk 1:45).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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