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.
It was his own parents who were looking for him—the father who had brought him up and cared for him when they fled into Egypt—and even they did not find him at once. This shows that Jesus is not found among relatives and acquaintances, nor among those bound to him by physical ties. We do not find him in a crowd. Let us learn where it was that Joseph and Mary discovered him; then in their company we too shall be able to find him.
They found him, scripture says, in the temple. Not just anywhere, but in the temple; and not just anywhere in the temple, but among the doctors, listening to them and asking them questions.
And so we too must look for Jesus in the temple of God; we must look for him in the Church, among the doctors who belong to the Church and are faithful to its teaching. If we seek him there, we shall find him.
Moreover, anyone who claims to be a doctor without possessing Christ is a doctor in name only; Jesus, the Word and Wisdom of God, will not be found with him.
They found him, then, “sitting among the doctors,” or rather not merely sitting, but learning from them and listening to them. At this very moment Jesus is present among us too, questioning us and listening to us speaking. It is further written, “And they were all amazed.”
What caused their astonishment? Not his questions—though these were certainly extraordinary—but his answers. He questioned the doctors, and since they could not always give an answer, he himself replied to his own questions.
These replies were not mere disputation, but real teaching, exemplified for us in holy scripture where the divine law declares: “Moses spoke, and God answered him.” In this way the Lord instructed Moses about those matters of which he was ignorant.
So it was that sometimes Jesus asked questions, sometimes he answered them; and, as we have already said, wonderful though his questions were, his replies were even more wonderful.
In order, therefore, that we too may be his hearers and that he may put to us questions which he himself will then answer, let us pray to him earnestly, seeking him with great effort and anguish, and then our search will be rewarded.
Not for nothing was it written: “Your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” The search for Jesus must be neither careless nor indifferent, not must it be only a transitory affair. Those who seek in this manner will never find him.
We must truly be able to say: “We have been looking for you anxiously”; if we can say this then he will reply to our weary and anxious soul in the words: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Dear Lord, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
may we always search for You where You may be found:
in Word and in Sacrament, in truth and in love.