Editor’s note: This is the second post in a series commenting on the first words of Christ as presented in the Gospels.
How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? (Lk 2:49)
Teenagers can be awfully irrational. I know because just 10 years ago, that was me. There’s no surprise when one hears the all too common canon of teenaged complaints:
My parents don’t understand me.
They don’t know the modern world I live in.
I’m good on my own, I don’t need them to tell me what to do.
I have everything figured out, they need to let me be.
It doesn’t take long to grow up and realize that we don’t know as much as we used to. Bob Dylan had it right in“My Back Pages”:
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.
Parents know better than their kids because parents have lived experience to prove “this way is better” and “that way is not.” No parent is perfect, but their mistakes in the past are learned from and they try with all their might not to allow their kids to fail in the same way.
It’s ironic, then, to hear the 20-, 30-, 40-, or 50-year-old teenager say the same thing in his walk with God.
The Church doesn’t understand my situation.
It’s outdated, thinking and moving in centuries.
The Church needs to get with the times.
I have it all figured out. I’m happy on my own.
God is merciful, I don’t need the Church’s “rules.”
The Church has been around for 2000 years. She knows what’s good for her children. She has witnessed mistakes and tries with all her might not to allow us to harm ourselves. The Church certainly declares nothing to win a popularity contest. She declares truth, and truth has a way of vexing a hardened ego.
Sometimes, parents have to be patient and allow their kids to mess up. After all, kids will do whatever they want regardless of any rational argument or proven experience offered. And so, for us grown-up teenagers, Jesus Christ shows the purest patience, waiting for us as we frantically search for peace and joy in life until we come back to him.
A man came to Mass one Tuesday morning after having been away for nearly 60 years. His story wasn’t much different from any other lost sheep’s. He searched for happiness anywhere and everywhere on his own until he was back in the church and saw Love Incarnate on the Cross looking down on him, saying what he did nearly 2000 years ago, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Image by Annie Spratt