#TeenRenewal is the podcast for December 30, 2018, the First Sunday of Christmas. When the sassy teenager is the Incarnation of God, that makes for some interesting parenting. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Luke1 #Christmas #Christmas1 #Jesus #Temple #Teenager #Rebellion #Youth #Inspiration
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 12/30/2018 The 1st Sunday of Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 2:1-52.
A teenage kid comes up missing for three days and the parents are frantic. They find him and he acts like the parents are the problem. This is not from the headlines, this is about Jesus!
My heart goes out to Mary and Joseph on this one. I have had one child in particular who came up missing several times in his life. Once, when we were at a National Park in Kentucky he wandered away from us when we were at the pool. They had to shut down the pool and start scouring the park. He was found earlier by a park ranger who put him in a jeep and drove him back to the pool. We were a mess. He was as happy as a clam getting to ride in the jeep with a ranger in uniform. His smiling face and bright eyes were enough to make me not know whether to laugh or to be angry.
Another time, he was at Lalapalooza in Chicago after hours and underage. He had the propensity to not charge his phone, left his cousing who was of age, and was supposed to be looking out for him. When I got into the city at 2:45 am, Google Maps said turn right. The Holy Spirit said, “Turn left.” I turned left and parked my car right in front of the doorway of a building in a metropolitan area of 9.5 million people where he was with two girls who “volunteered to allow me to sleep on their hotel room floor.” My response? “Get in the car!”
The conflict between relief and murder often happens in a parent. We find kids at underage drinking parties, out with kids who are dealing drugs, but they tell us that they are not participating. Uh, huh. In a culture that worships independence, we American parents each have stories about how our children have established that they were growing up and being independent, through destructive means. Usually, it is some activity that we are relieved that they survived. Knowing they have survived, we then want to strangle them for putting themselves in danger.
Again, the Gospels show us that the life of the God of the universe who became human was like ours. Jesus is 12 years old. His humanity is beginning to understand his uniqueness and role in the world. As a teen who is coming of age, he has gotten lost in his passion. In the case of Jesus Christ, it is his passion for the things of his Father, Our Father, who art in heaven.
Up to this point in the Gospel of Luke, we see the archangel Gabriel come to Mary and tell her, “He will be great…and will be called Son of the Most High…he will be given the throne of his father David…he will reign…forever.” So, basically Gabriel said, “Your child is the Savior. The Salvation spoken of by the prophets is happening through you, Mary.”
Elizabeth, as I spoke last week, testifies to Jesus being her “Lord.” The Shepherds in the field have had the angels tell them who Jesus is. They told Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem. Like good Jewish parents, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple for his circumcision and Anna and Simeon told them he was the Savior. Now, in this passage for this Sunday, it is Jesus, at a mere 12 years, who lays claim to his divinity. He says, “I must be in my Father’s house.” Who is his father? His Father is the one in whose house he stands as he stands in the Temple: God is his Father.
Great. A sassy teenager who is also the Son of God; and I thought losing a teenager in Chicago at 2:45 am during one of the largest rock concert festivals in the nation was bad. Praise be to Jesus that they are observant Jews and there is a fourth commandment: Honor your father and your mother. The Lord, manifested as a child, would keep the commandments and this one saves Mary and Joseph from the crazy drinking, drug use, unnecessary rebellion, and other chicanery that our teens seem required to do.
Even the events of this passage show the Incarnation is real. They look for Jesus for three days, just like he was dead for three days. Jesus questions why they have been looking for him, like the angel at the empty tomb asks why the women are seeking the living among the dead. Mary keeps the words of Jesus in this passage in her heart as she pondered the crucifixion in her heart.
There is foreshadowing of the passion in this child at every turn. God is working out his plan of salvation through human beings. He is working out his salvation in real history, real time. He is working out his plan of salvation in the midst of all the very human things we experience. He is working out his salvation through the instruction and formation of Jesus in the Temple and the home of the Holy Family. Salvation is real. God acts in history. God works in the everyday lives of families. God works his formation through the church and in the home.
What should not be missed is that Jesus does not self-differentiate from his parents through rebellion. As with everything, Jesus Christ comes to begin the inauguration of the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of God, everything is made new. Jesus undoes the rebellion of humanity as a whole by accepting the will of the Father for his life. He will undo the rebellion of humanity in the Garden of Eden by his act of faithfulness in the Garden of Gethsemani. Constantly, those who encounter Jesus Christ and believe are renewed within themselves. The world continues on in its fruitless rebellion as all those who are truly converted within Jesus Christ are renewed. It is the renewal that marks the Kingdom of God.
On this day, Jesus renews what it means to be a teenager. We should know that Jesus renews teens. God can speak to us through the young. He can transform the young. The question all of these things leave me with is this: are we accepting our conversion? Are we being renewed daily? Are we hearing what God is saying to us through the angels, through the holy people around us, through those who are open to standing in the Temple, as Jesus does? Do we believe that God is working out his salvation in real time? Have we accepted our part of the mission?
Let the 12 year old Jesus be our guide, not the parents Joseph and Mary. Follow his lead to renewal and life. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2018.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian