The Lost Child
Commentary on The Reed of God, Part Three: The Lost Child
For both parent and child, the lost child happens in what feels like a split second. A slight distraction, and the familiar persons we knew are no longer present. The child searches frantically for his mother or father. The parent does the same searching for son or daughter. And so, for us it is not a stretch to imagine the panic that Mary and Joseph felt when they could not find Jesus.
How could this happen? Perhaps because I grew up in a small town, I can imagine this scenario easily. When I was little, my friends and I rode our bikes all over town. I am not sure (in fact I am rather quite sure) my parents did not know exactly where I was. It was not at all unusual to trust in this way because there was an understanding in this town that everyone kind of looked out for each other. It was similar for Joseph and Mary. They knew their relatives looked out for each other.
Houselander writes in this section just how powerful is the experience of Mary in her sinlessness. Sometimes we suffer because we have sinned. But the sinless virgin cannot suffer because of sin, because she never sinned. Yet, she was never spared from the evil of the world. This story is such a case. This story shows the great love of the Blessed Mother not only for God, but also for us. She experiences what so many of us experience. She suffers in the same way we suffer. But whereas I might get impatient, or frustrated, or even despair or give up, the Blessed Mother remains faithful.
I remember a priest once saying that it was odd that one of Mary’s titles was the Refuge of Sinners, since she had not sinned, and as a human her understanding might be limited. But, he concluded, she knew perfectly well the feeling, of having sinned, even though she did not, for she had lost Jesus. And is that not sin? The loss of Jesus until we repent and seek his mercy?
Moreover, the strong bond of a mother for her son was also the bond felt between Jesus and Mary. But the bond between Jesus and Mary is indeed most strong. “She lived in Him; her life was in His; her flesh and blood was in His; her will was in His. Unless he took her flesh and blood out of His hands and feet, He had to let her hands and feet be nailed in his. Christ suffered the sense of the loss of God, of being left, forsaken by God. Our Lady, therefore, suffered the same thing: the sense of the loss of God.”
But do not we feel the loss of God as well, even apart from sin? Are there not days when it is the case that we pray and yet God remains silent? Are there not times when the events of our lives leave us wondering where God is, times when we, like Mary, might ask God “Why have you done this to us?” The great saint, Saint Teresa of Kolkata, better known as Mother Teresa, spoke of many years of such silence from God, something quite common in those saints who know God best.
Houselander outlines the many ways in which we could feel this loss of Jesus. We can lose Jesus when we lose sight of the importance of the Church in our lives as ways to enter into the life of Jesus more fully? Or those times when our job no longer gives us any sense of fulfillment? Is that not because we have lost Jesus in our lives? Is it the case that something we did to help others has become so consuming for us because we cannot recognize the need of the organization, is, for it to move in directions that we do not desire?
The basic point is that our entire lives are such that we should constantly be seeking the lost child, the Lord Jesus in our lives. Our lives are the perpetual Advent in a way, waiting upon Jesus to come into our hearts, just as we think of how best to celebrate that great moment two thousand years ago when we found the baby Jesus in the arms of the Blessed Virgin. Whatever you do to prepare for Christmas, prepare for the lost child, and do not forget the most important preparation is to prepare your heart for the coming of the Lord Jesus into us.
Previous Commentaries on the Reed of God
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