Here we are, at the third Friday in Lent. Today let’s meditate upon the Third Sorrow of Our Lady: Losing the Child Jesus in the Temple.

Jesus, when he was twelve years old, went with His parents to Jerusalem to celebrate the Pasch, or the Passover. This was the celebration of the Jews escape from Egypt and the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb, which was performed every year by the Jewish people. The Holy Family had finished celebrating the feast, and Mary and Joseph started on their way home. After traveling for a whole day, they realized that they had left Jerusalem without Jesus. Imagine Joseph’s, but especially Mary’s anxiety at realizing they had left behind their only Child. Yet another of the swords prophesied by Simeon surely pierced her heart then. For, not only had they lost their Child, but their God!

They immediately set to looking for Jesus among their family, and discovering He was not there they hurried back to Jerusalem. For three days they sought their Son, until they finally looked in the Temple. There He was! He was sitting with the elders, not only listening to them and asking them questions, but also amazing them all with the extraordinary wisdom in His answers. Mary, upon entering and seeing her Son, said to Him, “… Son, why hast thou done this to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” (Luke 2:48). Jesus then added confusion to their sorrow by saying, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know I must be about my father’s business?” (Luke2:49) Why shouldn’t they seek Him? How was the Temple His father’s business, He who was the carpenter’s Son? Jesus was, for the first time, revealing His divinity publicly. Though they, “…understood not the word he spoke unto them.” Mary pondered them and, “…kept all these words in her heart.” (Luke 2:50-51)

This of course leads one to wonder: did Mary know in her heart that her Son would leave them for three days after His death on Calvary, just as He had disappeared in Jerusalem in His childhood? Oh, the pain she must have suffered if she knew what this first separation foreshadowed! Just the thought of being separated from her Son again must have rent her very soul, inflicting upon her the same sorrow she must have felt at losing Jesus in Jerusalem. To think when we sin, we are willfully choosing the separation which caused her so much sorrow. Should we not share in this sorrow for our sins, which pull us away from God? If Mary experienced so much sorrow at being separated from Jesus, should not we redouble our contrition for our sinfulness which separates us from His grace? This Lent, let’s ask for the grace to have true contrition for our sins, so that on Easter morning we, like Mary, may rejoice at finding Jesus is no longer dead and lost to us, but alive! Use these forty days of sorrow and seperation to prepare us to live with joy in His restored presence.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!