Tips to Meet Jesus in Our Daily Lives

In the difficulties and dramas of life, how do we encounter Jesus? In what ways does He come to meet us?

Newsroom (26/12/2021 19:00, Gaudium Press) Yesterday, the Gospel reading for this Solemnity of the Holy Family attended to the drama in which Mary and Joseph found themselves, faced with the loss of the Child God in the Temple.

St. Luke describes how, for the Feast of Easter, the Holy Family set out for Jerusalem, as they did every year. But during their return to Nazareth, they noticed that Jesus was not among their relatives and acquaintances. Thus, they returned to the Holy City, and after three days’ walk, found Him in the Temple, in discussion with the teachers.

“On seeing Him, His parents were greatly astonished, and His Mother said to Him: ‘My son, why have you acted thus with us? Your father and I were anxiously looking for you’” (Lk 2:48).

The wonder of which this verse speaks can be understood in two senses. First, in the sense explained by St Thomas Aquinas: amid the effects, they were searching for the cause, the reason for this event.[1] Second, they were amazed to find the Child fulfilling His mission at such a tender age and at witnessing the manifestation that He made of Himself.

Here, in this situation, Mary and Joseph give us an example of how we should behave when sensitive grace departs from us. First of all, we should avoid any attitude of revolt; if it happened, it was because God allowed or even desired it. These are life’s ups and downs; the dramas and the difficulties that Providence allows in order to unite us more closely to Him. Let us accept everything with the same state of mind as Jesus’ parents, so that when we turn to Our Lord, we will also have a sense of admiration.

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In the question posed by Our Lady, there is no trace of complaint. With Her most upright conscience She shows distress and perplexity, desiring only an explanation in order to serve God better. This should also be our attitude: to be resigned and loving in the face of the problems we encounter in life.

Answer according to the divine nature

“Jesus answered, ‘Why were you looking for Me? Do you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?'” (Lk 2:49).

In Her question, wherein the concern of a mother for her son clearly emerges, the Virgin Mary takes into account the human nature of Jesus. And He, responding with another question, draws attention to His divine nature.

By this answer – which, according to Fillion, constituted “the program of His whole ministry”[2] – we can conjecture that the Child Jesus instructed Our Lady as to how He should fulfil the Father’s will, and how this divine call surpassed any blood ties. He wanted to tell His earthly parents that His divine mission was above family ties.

But was He thereby reproaching Mary and Joseph because they had set themselves up as His parents? St. Bede makes an inspired comment: “He does not reprove them because they seek Him as their son, but instead causes them to raise the eyes of their souls to see what He owes to the One of Whom He is the Eternal Son.”[3] Jesus Christ had a mission to accomplish and He wanted His earthly parents to understand that everything had to be subordinate to His heavenly Father.

Mary’s example of not understanding

But they did not understand the words that He spoke to them” (Lk 2:50).

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Why did Our Lady and St. Joseph not understand? Because God did not give them the light at that moment, so that they might have greater merit, understanding only later the reasons for the behaviour of the Child Jesus.

Mary did not understand the words of Her Son, but, as we see in the following verse, She kept “all these things” in Her heart with love, knowing that there was a lesson behind this episode.

This should be our attitude towards everything that transcends us and that we perhaps fail to understand in our spiritual life: with peace and trust, keeping the events in our heart and reflecting on them over time, remembering Our Lord’s promise: “The Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send you in My Name, will teach you everything and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14:26). Sooner or later, the Holy Spirit will make us to understand, to the extent that it is useful for our sanctification and the fulfilment of our mission.

In this episode, the Divine Master also teaches us that, at times, even our relatives may not understand some of our attitudes, or our firm decision to fulfil a moral or religious duty. Therefore, if this happens, let us not be surprised.

Prayer and Doctrine

What application does this passage of the Gospel have for our spiritual life?

There are moments in our existence when we have the sensation of having “lost the Child Jesus”; that is, by our fault or not, the spiritual consolation disappears and we feel helpless. What should we do when we realize that we are without sensible graces, without that which once gave us the courage and support to practice virtue?

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This passage of the Gospel teaches us to imitate Mary and Joseph: to search after the Child Jesus. That is, to go and seek the sensitive grace when it withdraws. When we are afflicted or in aridity, we should seek Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. There is nothing, absolutely nothing necessary for our sanctification that, if we ask the Eucharistic Jesus, we will not eventually obtain.

Let us not forget, however, that in the Temple Our Lord was among the Teachers of the Law. This may well mean the importance of doctrine in sustaining us in the hour of trial, and so, from this follows for us the necessity of a good and solid doctrinal formation.

Just as someone who is going on a long journey arranges his documents, appropriate clothing and all other necessary things in advance, so must we do: we must pray much and know the doctrine well, in order to be prepared to go through the periods of aridity. If we have the principles well imprinted in our souls, then, when the wind of trial hits – providing we have the principles well imprinted in our souls – the leaves will be strong and firm on the tree of Faith.

By Guilherme Motta

Text extracted from: CLÁ DIAS, João Scognamiglio. God Closer to Men. Heralds of the Gospel, n. 96, December 2009, pp. 10-17.

[1] THOMAS AQUINAS. Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 32, a. 8, Resp.: “Awe is a certain desire to know, which arises in man because he sees the effect and ignores the cause.”

[2] FILLION, Louis-Claude. Nuestro Señor Jesucristo según los Evangelios. Madrid: Edibesa, 2000, p. 88.

[3] BEDA, San. Apud TOMAS DE AQUINO. Catena Aurea. Buenos Aires: Cursos de Cultura Católica, n.d., p. 70.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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