I want to look at today’s Gospel from a couple of different perspectives – Mary’s and Jesus’. Now, I am not a mother, so I have never had the experience of temporarily losing a child. I can only imagine how terrifying that would be. So let’s look at what Mary must have been going through. They’re on their way home from Jerusalem, and Mary and Joseph just assume that Jesus is somewhere among their group traveling back home. Imagine. Starting to realize Jesus is not with this relative, He’s not with that neighbor. Then, going back to Jerusalem and not being able to find Him for THREE DAYS. Going from slight nervousness, escalating quickly to worry, anxiety, and fear. And then to finally find her Son, and have Him answer her the way He did (which I want to come back to later). Imagine the humility it must have taken for Mary to hear her 12 year old Son respond to her that way, after worrying all day about where He could have been.
Then, the Gospel ends with Mary and Joseph not understanding Jesus’ response, and Mary “kept all these things in her heart.” So even though Mary did not understand what Jesus meant, she kept it in her heart. How often does Jesus say things to me, or answer my prayers, in ways that I do not understand? I want to follow Mary’s example: trust Jesus. That though I might not understand the way the Lord is working, that He has my best interest (in terms of my eternal soul, not just my day-to-day quality of life!) at heart and that He is taking care of me!
Now, let’s look at this whole situation from Jesus’ perspective. Mary and Joseph show up at the temple and want to know why He stayed behind. His response? “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Another version of the second question is “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Essentially Jesus told Mary, “I’m exactly where I should be!” This reminded me of something I have read in St. Josemaria Escriva’s The Way, “Ask yourself many times throughout the day: Am I doing at this moment what I ought to be doing?” (772)
“What I ought to be doing.” Take a moment today to evaluate how you spend your time. How much time do you spend on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, watching TV? How might you be able to better use that time? Now, I certainly am not suggesting that we should do away with all social media and technology, or never watch television shows again. It is good to relax and to unwind, and you can do some serious bonding with family or friends over watching the whole last season of whatever show you enjoy on Netflix. What I am saying is that we should reflect on Escriva’s question: “am I doing at this moment what I ought to be doing?” And you know what? Sometimes the answer might just be “yes. Yes, I should be watching Parks and Rec or Downton Abbey right now.”
But sometimes, the answer might be no. Maybe I should not be spending my free time this afternoon clicking on every single “related video” that comes up on YouTube. Perhaps I could instead be reading a classic, like Pride and Prejudice or The Lord of the Rings (if you can handle that. I never could get past the first 30 pages of The Fellowship of the Ring). Broadening your horizons! Or maybe I should spend some time outside; go for a walk or a run. Appreciate the incredible beauty that the Lord surrounds us with. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while and catch up.
There are so many ways we can spend our time. So this week, try to remember to ask yourself throughout the day, “Am I doing what I ought to be doing right now?” And if the answer is yes, good for you. If the answer is, “hmmm, maybe not,” try to find a more productive way to spend your time! (Keeping in mind that rest and relaxation IS productive in its own way – for our sanity!)
-Katie DiFato is the Pastoral Assistant at Blessed Sacrament Church in Savannah, GA. Though a “yankee” by birth, she loves sweet tea, pecan pie, southern hospitality, and most other things about the south. Except sand gnats. She does not love sand gnats.