The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
“The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.”
This small passage in this week’s Gospel reading from Luke is the general biographical notes for Jesus’ life before his public ministry, which began with his baptism by John in the Jordan River many years later. If Jesus is meant to be a model for our lives, we can certainly use these few words as a template for ours.
The first thing we should notice is that life is meant for growth. We may have a sameness about our daily lives, where we live and work and our friends and family, but that doesn’t mean that growth is not a divine imperative. This growth which is manifested in the maturing body is given further definition in our text as it relates to consciousness.
The growth is further defined as being filled with wisdom. Wisdom has to do with seeing the relational interconnectedness of all things and all persons. Wisdom sees beyond what society and culture demand, and values to see the deeper connections internally and externally. Wisdom teaches us to value the sacredness of life and it helps us orient our lives in a position of loving responsiveness to human need. Wisdom moves us past the limits of the personal ego into the joyful abundance of a world that is filled with meaning and compassion.
And the favor of God was upon him. Again, as a template for our lives we should strive to appropriate that awareness of a welcoming delight in our presence. Bosses may fire us, friends may shun us, institutions may reject us, relationships may fail, but in spite of failure and rejection, growth in wisdom teaches us that we belong here and our presence matters. This is the gospel, i.e. that despite systems, thoughts and feelings that constrict us, constrain us, reject and oppress us, there is a wisdom that interconnects us to the source of joy, power and hope that undergirds and animates the universe. By faith we can participate in this new reality.