Advent Reflection – The Fifth Joy of Mary: The Finding in the Temple

From CWS member Mary Pezzulo, originally published on

After three days, they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening and asking them questions.

The Lord had been taken away from Miriam’s sight, even thought she was perfect and had done nothing wrong. No one knows the agony of the dark night better than she does. Now, Miriam beheld him again. She had seen the Lord naked, helpless, covered in amniotic fluid and splashed with her blood; she had seen Him swaddled on the straw straw. She had seen Him in the arms of the prophet Simeon. She had seen Him a refugee, fleeing for His life across the border to Egypt. She saw Him learn to walk in the shadow of the pyramids her ancestors built. She saw Him grow up, a poor child in an occupied country, learning his foster-father’s trade in the carpentry shop. Now she saw Him discussing the Torah with the teachers in Jerusalem’s temple.

It wasn’t that she didn’t recognize Him. She couldn’t have not recognized Him. But she saw Him in a new way, and she marveled. Her was her son, holding His own with scholars of the Law; here was the  Word of the Lord Himself, standing in the temple of the Lord, listening to the teaching on the Word of the Lord. Here was God contemplating God, Light contemplating Light, true God contemplating true God. Here were the wisest teachers of the Word, marveling at the wisdom of the Word made Flesh. Here was God who made mankind and called mankind to seek Him through His Word, listening to the word of the Lord.

Here was the Son, seeking the Father in the Father’s temple, through the Wisdom revealed to the prophets by the Holy Ghost.

Miriam beheld a manifestation of the Holy Trinity.

Her mother’s heart flooded with relief, and more than relief. Her heart flooded with joy at the mystery she beheld, but this time it was not a Magnificat that sprang to her lips.

“Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You.” 

“Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” 

But they did not understand.

No one– not the Mother of God, not the prophets, not the saints, not the Cherubim– can understand the Holy Trinity. God is begotten of God; God pours Himself out into God; God who is One and cannot be divided returns in full the love of God to God, and so on for eternity. God becomes Man without change, in order to draw humankind up into God. God everywhere present and filling all things, yet apart from us above the firmament where sinful humankind cannot reach, enters His creation in a new way and pitches His tent among mortals. God without limit takes the form of a slave in order to abolish slavery. God becomes a child full of wisdom with no need to be taught, and that child seeks wisdom in His Father’s House.

We will contemplate this mystery for eternity, but never come to understand.

The Mother of God beheld the mystery, and rejoiced. She did not understand it, but she loved, and that was better than strict understanding. She did not understand her Son or why He’d done what He did, hurting her so deeply in the process. But she loved Him and rejoiced to see Him again. She rejoiced in the mystery she could not understand, because she knew that it was very good, and that good things ought to be greeted with joy.

Love itself is a dreadful mystery which cannot be comprehended. But it can be said without error that, among all the other things that Love is, love is a joyful contemplation of that which justly deserves to be beheld with joy. Perfect love is the proper and just response to perfect Love, and the Holy Trinity is perfect Love. No one has ever loved the Holy Trinity as Miriam has.  So, while no one can fully understand the mystery, it can also be said that Miriam understood better than anyone else.