Manchester people see little need to visit Liverpool. However, I know of one compelling reason. The Walker Art Gallery has a small painting, a hidden gem, which captures the moment the lost Jesus is called to account by Mary and Joseph. Why did you do this? Your Father and I were worried. We have been searching for you. Feet apart and arms folded, Jesus replies like a teenager who feels he has been misunderstood. “Why? Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs”.
It doesn’t make sense to think of the Son of God as disobedient. Obedience marked him out during the following years of the Hidden Life. Yet, a certain amount of teenage inquisitiveness is acceptable. How fascinated Jesus must have been with the Temple; with the doctors of the law; with so much that was associated with the God whom Mary and Joseph had spoken about with him. So much so that that he was now able to talk about his “Father’s affairs”. There is a desire, a direction emerging; a longing which will eventually be fulfilled. “I and the Father are One”.
Some Premier League top teams are currently doing badly; one in the south spectacularly badly. The stand-in coach has offered a chat with players who lack the necessary spirit. Clearly, if you are a footballer and don’t have the desire to play well, the team will not do well.
We can come to mass every Sunday; we can say mass as priests every Sunday. If it becomes a routine, a performance, there will be little energy in the Church; in our spiritual lives. “My dear people we are already the children of God but in the future we will be like him; we shall see God as he really is”. Growth in faith, in the things of God, is our inheritance. This seems also to have been Jesus’ experience. As we see the infant Jesus emerge into manhood and become enraptured by the things of God, we might reflect on our own desire for God and our desire for the affairs of God. As we contemplate Jesus growing in stature, in wisdom and in favour with God, we pray that our desire for God will grow and be strengthened.