The message of Christmas is a message of fulfillment. The time was right, and it came to be. Some factors at the time were more favorable than they ever had been or would be again for centuries. God’s will was, and is, for our well-being. And it was all by God’s plan. Let us never forget that, even though those are some clever catch-phrases sometimes used to disguise the ugly motivations of some people.
This is the beginning of the fulfillment, and more will be. In fact, it continues to this day.
Here we have the story of the householder who hired people to work in his field. He hired all he could at the beginning of the day, but then he came back again at the 6th, 9th and 11th hour, hiring those who were waiting for jobs then. At the end of the day, he gave those who were hired last the same pay as those who had been working all day. When someone voiced an objection, the householder had a reply.
We can take some comfort in this. Those of us who were born too late to suffer persecutions go on crusades, or cast a shadow in the reformations will still have our rewards for the work which we did do.
The Gospel reading for today is familiar to most of us, but how many people have really examined it for what it is trying to tell? At twelve, Jesus is probably considered a man by virtue of having completed his Bar Mitzvah and so this is his first visit to the Temple as an adult. But what is such a young man doing, occupying so many of the learned doctors in heavy discussion for three days?
The answer to this, including some speculation on my part, shows some insight into what might be coming for him.
Something here that your Sunday school teacher didn’t mention? We hear too sickeningly much about “God’s will”, “God’s time”, and “God’s higher plan”, but we don’t hear enough about one of the main points that the Bible tries to get across: fulfillment”.
You can’t frost a cake until the cake itself has been baked. Likewise, the world arranged itself in a manner that was not only advantageous, but necessary for the work of Jesus to spread faster than authorities could move to suppress it!
Secrets revealed? The Gospel reading is the Finding in the Temple, in which Jesus tarries around in the Temple a few days after Mary and Joseph left Jerusalem to go back home to Nazareth following the Passover celebration. It is also the last thing we read about him as a child. The next event in his life that we will read about is his baptism by John the Baptist.
All of this leaves room for much speculation. We can, of course, speculate and surmise from what we find in other sources and tradition.
The reading in place of the Epistle is explicit in its prophecy. And the Gospel reading goes well with it, and goes further with the point we found in last week’s readings. In stupidly simple terms, nobody is going to stand in God’s way.
Since Joseph had no more trust in Herod’s son Archelaus than in Herod, he made use of the same gap in jurisdictions that would figure much later in Jesus’ trial. Joseph went to Galilee and to Nazareth, fulfilling yet another prophecy.