The Mystery of the Finding in the Temple

Today we look at the fifth and last Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.

One of the things many Evangelicals like me found difficult is the Catholic habit of showing Jesus as a baby in the arms of Mary. “Jesus is not a baby anymore,” goes the complaint. “It was a man, not a child, who died upon the Cross.”

True enough. And if the baby imagery leads us to mere sentimentality about the “little Lord Jesus” instead of a mature adult relationship with Jesus, it’s a bad thing. But at the same time, there is a reason Scripture itself presents us with pictures of Jesus as an infant and child. For it’s “the whole Jesus”—Jesus the baby, Jesus the boy and Jesus the man, not just Jesus on the Cross—who is our Savior. Jesus, even as an infant, is doing the work of salvation by entering into the whole of human experience. Part of our human experience is that of infancy and childhood, so God joins himself fully with that.

That’s why meditation on and even prayer to the Christ Child is alright, just as meditation and prayer to Jesus as teacher, or healer, or prophet are all good, too. Christ is more than just a figure on a cross. His revelation is bigger than a six-hour space of time on a Friday afternoon. His whole life is revelatory, including his childhood. After all, it was the child, not the man, who prompted his greatest disciple to keep all these things in her heart (Luke 2:51).


3 Responses

  1. There’s a Rosary meditation that identifies the special grace of this mystery as Obedience. There’s something lovely about that — Jesus’ obedience to His Father surpassing everything else as He grows in wisdom and in grace.

  2. I have a problem with the fifth Joyful Mystery. It seems much more fitting that it should be the Epiphany, which was a much more important event, as Jesus was revealed to pagans and in this, universal salvation is revealed, and it would help underline and reinforce the understanding that the Wise Men visited Jesus sometime after His birth, but before His second birthday, which is why the Holy Family was already living in a house, presumably with Joseph working for a living in Bethlehem, and why Herod wanted all boys in Bethlehem aged two and lower executed after consulting the time that the star appeared. (In spite of what artistic depictions frequently show, and what Nativity scenes include, the Adoration of the Magi did not occur in the stable.)
    I do understand that the Finding in the Temple is the last event to be described in the Canon before Jesus began his ministry, but it just seems so insignificant.

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