The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary lead us up to and through the birth of Jesus Christ and his childhood. For that reason, they make for wonderful reflections during the seasons of Advent and Christmas. Today, we look at the Fifth Joyful Mystery: the Finding of Jesus in the Temple.
This mystery also includes elements of the Sorrowful Mysteries; there is nothing joyful about losing something, let alone losing a child! So much of Scripture, however, speaks of loss. We refer to the experience of the Jewish people wandering in the desert as 40 years of being lost. The people of Israel were later lost in exile. Jesus’ parables are full of examples of things—and people—being lost: sheep, coins, prodigal sons, and so on. One of the most treasured hymns of Christianity, “Amazing Grace,” includes the famous line, “I once was lost, but now am found!”
Finding that which was lost is, of course, an experience of great joy! We can only imagine the relief and joy that Joseph and Mary felt when they found Jesus in the Temple engaged in conversation with the elders. (We must resist the temptation to characterize this as a young boy teaching the elders. The story merely says that the Child Jesus was asking them questions, and they were impressed.) Jesus, of course, indicates that the Temple in Jerusalem is precisely the place where he should be sought. Jesus later refers to himself as the “Temple,” which would be destroyed and restored in three days.
The story at the center of the Fifth Joyful Mystery and the sole story from Jesus’ childhood is proclaimed on the Feast of the Holy Family in Year C as part of the Christmas season, thus creating an inseparable link between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Whereas the newborn king is to be found in Bethlehem, the climax of this king’s reign will occur in Jerusalem.
The most joyful thing for us to embrace from this Scripture reading, as well as all of the readings of the Advent and Christmas seasons, is that we are told precisely where we can find Jesus. Our Lord is not playing games with us and challenging us to find him as he hides. Quite the contrary! From the star of Bethlehem to the Cross on Calvary, the Son of God is revealed to us so that we may find him and follow him to new life. Now that is joyful!
Image: Detail from “The Fifteen Mysteries and the Virgin of the Rosary” by Netherlandish Painter (possibly Goswijn van der Weyden, active by 1491, died after 1538), ca. 1515–20, public domain via The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Deepen your understanding of the Rosary by reading The Rosary: A Path into Prayer by Elizabeth M. Kelly and The Complete Rosary: A Guide to Praying the Mysteries by William G. Storey.