Recently, my Mom and I lost track of my sister while grocery shopping. To put this in context, my sister, though older than I, has Asperger Syndrome and developmental delays. Normally, she is allowed some freedom when we are in places familiar to us, as long as she keeps contact with her cell phone.
This particular day, she did not check in. Neither did she answer her phone. Many, many times.
Anyone who has lost someone they are responsible for knows that sinking feeling. Knows all the horrible possibilities that come to mind as you are searching for that person.
Now imagine that person that you have lost is the greatest gift God has given to mankind. And He gave this gift, this Person, for you to be responsible for. And you went and lost Him. For three days. The anxiety of losing my sister for a few minutes was awful. I can’t imagine losing Christ for three days. Mary and Joseph must have been hysterical.
When they found him, the relief must have been just as hysterical, and mixed with another very natural reaction after losing a person for whom you were responsible… anger. Why didn’t you stay with us? Why didn’t you check in? What the heck did you think you were doing?
My sister got spotted by a grocery store worker. She had forgotten what her ringtone sounded like. She got yelled at and reeducated on what her phone sounded like. It would have been a lot worse if she had been lost for hours… or days. Especially for an oversight like letting us know where she was.
So, all things considered, I think Mary’s response to finding Jesus was rather… controlled. “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” (Luke 2:48)
How many times have we asked that of Christ? “Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you with great anxiety.” And we should be anxious upon losing Christ, whether it be for hours, days, weeks, years. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without Him there is nothing and life feels empty. Life is empty.
I imagine that Mary and Joseph’s world felt pretty empty without Christ as they searched for Him. So a rebuke from Mary, no matter how gentle, was natural.
What is more interesting to me, however, was Jesus’ response. “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)
This was no regular child for whom they sought. This was the Christ.
He is never lost. He is always where He should be. Right there. Waiting. In His Father’s house.
It is we who get lost along the way. Who get distracted. We travel in a different direction than Christ, leaving Him behind in His Father’s House. He is ready to be found any time we are ready to find Him. And no matter many times we lose Him in this life, no matter how long, He is always there. He is always waiting in His Father’s House. Ready to be found once more by those of us who have lost Him.