Though we have so little information about this period of Jesus’ life, the inspiration we can glean from what we do know is very precious.
Jesus grew up in the home of Joseph, who is remarkable not least because he plays so vital a role yet we do not know of a single word he said (see the study on Joseph on p. 70). Perhaps Joseph shows us that the living Word is nurtured and protected by silence, and grows to maturity in the company of silence. This leads us to consider the role of silence in our own lives, and how time spent in silence might help the presence of Christ to grow from infancy to maturity in our hearts.
The childhood of Jesus was spent in a carpenter’s household, with a family who lived in simplicity on modest means. This speaks to us of the humility of God’s grace, but suggests also that simplicity, making do for ourselves, honest work, and the labour of our hands are all part of a spiritual environment.
Joseph and Mary lost Jesus on their pilgrimage to the Temple because they assumed someone else was looking after him. That speaks volumes about the society in which they lived – where anyone’s child was everyone’s child, and all children were welcomed and loved. Jesus grew up knowing the meaning of community.
When they found their lost child, they expected an explanation, but treated him with gentleness. He had caused great inconvenience and anxiety and they told him so – but there were no angry scenes. Nobody hit him. Jesus grew up with gentleness, and this helped him to mature into what he was meant to be.
What was your childhood home like? Whose life introduced you to Jesus, and showed you the path of grace?
Think honestly, now. If Jesus had been your child, and you had lost him in the crowd and taken three days to find him, what would have happened?
Joseph was a quiet man and we read of Mary “treasuring” or “pondering” things that happen, in her heart. In your own life and home, what priority is given to quiet reflection? Is there space to think things through, or is life very busy and active? Would you describe the emphasis in your home as “being” or “doing”?
Patient and gentle God, you watch in wisdom and love over our homes and families. So direct our feet in the way of grace that we are fit travelling companions for Jesus. May his light so shine among us that gradually we are changed to become like him. Help us, good Lord, not only to sing about him and talk about him, but really to live with him. May Jesus abide among us as a member of our family, and may the family likeness grow more evident day by day. For we ask it in his holy name; Amen.