Why is the Finding in the Temple Joyful?

One of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary meditates upon the finding of Jesus in the temple.

Luke 2:41-52
Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.

Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them.

He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

For a long time, I didn’t even question why this would be a joyful mystery. I mean it’s joyful because you found your son, and it is a mystery because it’s something his mother kept in her heart and pondered, so what’s there to question?

Then, one day, as I hauled my stinking carcass down the road on a hot Texas jog, it occurred to me that perhaps I should wonder why it is a joyful mystery. I’ve left a child at a restaurant, and it isn’t exactly joyful. Embarrassing and terrifying, yes, but not especially joyful. Even the finding is not overwhelmingly characterized as joyful, since it is typically tempered by some degree of blame assignment (as it was in the temple). Of course any parent would be overjoyed that the child they lost is found, but the whole experience doesn’t exactly fall in the “joyful” category.

In meditating upon these with the Blessed Mother, and considering them in my heart as she did in hers, it suddenly became clear:

The finding in the temple is joyful because Jesus is explicitly accepting his divine sonship; he is affirming, through his words and actions, the testimony that Mary and Joseph shared with him about his birth and nature. The child that Mary and Joseph presented in the temple has returned there of his own volition. What greater joy can any parents experience than for as child to claim as their own the spiritual gifts they’ve presented from the treasury of their hearts?

One thought on “Why is the Finding in the Temple Joyful?

  1. e Post author

    It is also relevant here that Jesus was not only presented in the temple, but he, like a child from a priestly family, was probably not redeemed.

    “Evidently Luke intends to say that instead of being ‘redeemed’ and restored to his parents, this child was personally handed over to God in the Temple, given over completely to God. . . . Luke has nothing to say regarding the act of ‘redemption’ prescribed by the law. In its place we find the exact opposite: the child is handed over to God, and from now on belongs to him completely” (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives: 3).

    Also see Jimmy Aiken’s summary of the Presentation at

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