What does it mean to be mature in our faith?
There are certain features we could point to that show maturity: confidence, poise, what we say or don’t say, how we react to others. We can be mature in some ways but not in others. There are many confident leaders in business or politics who have failed to develop appropriate maturity in relationships. As in all things we can grow and develop.
In Luke’ gospel he tells the story of Jesus as a boy staying behind at the temple after the Passover feast. He writes ‘And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.’ Luke 2:62’
I was thinking about what Jesus would have been like growing up and how we mature as we experience life, our relationships and interactions with those around us. We don’t always see the faults in our own lives and we need people close to us, good friends, our partners, husband or wife, who we trust to put us straight, to admonish us when we are wrong and encourage us when we are right. Yet if we want to be fully mature, don’t we have to get into and stay in a relationship with Christ? We have to let his wisdom and favour rub off onto us, we have to grow in faith and in confidence in our faith.
I leave you with this imagined story from Rachel a cousin of Jesus remembering Jesus as boy. I hope it will inspire you to think about how Jesus matured and grew in wisdom, stature and favour with God, and what might help you to sit in your Father’s presence and mature at the feet of Christ.
Jesus was just short of two years older than me; we grew up together in Nazareth. My mother always joked that we could be twins, as I was born on the same day that my mother’s older sister Mary came back home. She had been away for nearly two years and suddenly returned with a son of her own. Because he was older than me, I looked up to him. He always had time for me when I was younger and unlike the other boys he didn’t look down on us girls – rather he would take the time to play, to help us and include us whenever he could. I suppose because we were always together I didn’t realise he was so different, so special then. He was Jesus my cousin and I loved him of course. Some of my friends joked that one day we would get married – but it wasn’t like that at all. I loved talking with him, he always seemed to be able to help, no matter what I was worried about and we would sometimes talk for hours. He was my friend as well as my cousin, but still somehow apart, and sometimes he would say something that I just couldn’t understand at all. But that was who he was. Some of my brothers and sisters didn’t like him very much because he wouldn’t join in their mean games and take sides. At times he was so much fun to be with and at other times he was so very serious, I think looking back this started at the time when he was twelve and we went up to the Passover feast in Jerusalem as we did each year. For a while Jesus had been unusually quiet and had taken to going off by himself outside the village for long walks. He said he needed time to think, he would soon be old enough to take his place with the adults in the rituals in the synagogue and whereas for most of the boys this was just something their parents foisted on them, Jesus was taking this very seriously. I suppose in a way I was jealous that he wasn’t spending so much time with me. At that time even though I was younger than him, I was taller than he was and I thought it was because I had teased him about his height, that he had gone off with his parents rather than travelling with us younger children. I imagine that Mary and Joseph had been thinking that Jesus was with us, but it was only as we had lunch on the second day’s journey home just outside the town of Archelais, that they suddenly came running up to us and frantically asked if we had seen Jesus. None of us could remember seeing him since we left Jerusalem so they left James and Jesus’ sisters with us and went back towards Jerusalem to find him.
Jesus was different when he came back. I’d seen James and he had told me they had found him in the temple sat down and talking with the Rabbis. As soon as I could get away from my chores I ran over to see him, as I was so happy that they had found him safe and well. I was really worried – I couldn’t bear the thought that the last thing that I had said to him was mean and I wanted to say sorry – I wanted to put it right. I asked him where he had been, ‘In my Father’s house’ he replied. He had grown up somehow in those few days, it wasn’t that he was physically bigger, but he somehow stood taller, had more stature, spoke with more confidence, and when I chatted with him it was like he brought a depth to the conservation, an observance of what should be. Yes we still had fun but he was always slightly set apart. I struggled with this for a time and I suppose I drifted apart from him for a while, as I grew up myself and matured, my parents found me a husband and I had my own children, it was then that I drew closer to Jesus again. His words had a new resonance and I wanted to hear what he had to say. That’s why I was there in Jerusalem the last time, how I saw him die and saw him rise again. He told me he had gone again to his Father but that he would always be with us as a bridegroom to his bride.
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover.42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.44 Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[f] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.