The fifth Joyful Mystery, the Finding in the Temple, unsettles me. I’m tempted to focus more on Mary and Joseph’s sorrow in losing Jesus. Also, I experience the difficulty of Jesus’ apparent “misbehavior.” Obviously, Jesus committed no sin, but His going missing is not behavior that adolescents are allowed to imitate in the literal sense. So, how are we to focus on the joyful aspect here?
I have a few suggestions, though I haven’t really dug into the devotional literature here:
1.) This mystery provides some hope leading into the Sorrowful Mysteries. To set the scene, the Holy Family are in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Jesus goes missing for three days, during which Mary and Joseph search for Him. He is discovered with the doctors in the Temple.
This event presages the joy of finding the Risen Jesus three days after the Crucifixion, which also occurred at Jerusalem at Passover. Christ spent those three days preaching to the souls of the righteous in the Limbo of the Fathers, whom the doctors in the Temple represent. Because Our Lady kept the mystery of the Finding in the Temple in her Immaculate Heart (St. Luke 2:51), perhaps this mystery provided her consolation during Good Friday and Holy Saturday, when Christ again seemed “lost” for three days.
2.) When we seem to have lost track of Jesus in our lives, we can find Him in:
a.) The writings of the saints, doctors, and Fathers of the Church, and the teaching of the Magisterium. This is the meaning of the doctors of the Law.
b.) Churches where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered and where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. This is what the Temple represents.
c.) The Sacrament of Penance. Our Lord did not sin when he stayed in the Temple, nor did Our Lady and St. Joseph sin in mistakenly thinking that Our Lord was with the other parent. However, in His Providence, God arranged this event to symbolize Christians who fall into sin, thereby “losing Jesus.” Seeking Jesus requires contrition (sorrow) and leads us back to Jesus in the Temple, namely the priest (acting as alter Christus) forgives us in the confessional.
d.) Our hearts, where the Holy Trinity indwells. Though physically we return to Nazareth and all the cares of work and daily life, in our hearts we remain in the Father’s house with Jesus, through the grace of the Holy Ghost.
e.) Heaven, when we die. The three days of searching represent the purgative, illuminative, and unitive stages in our spiritual journey.
3.) When we lose track of Jesus, we should join ourselves to Mary and Joseph, who know the way to find Jesus in His Father’s house.