The boy was twelve years old.
and precocious, according to the story.
The family holiday was a
Passover pilgrimage to the great city
with its temple of ages.
The grand stone building
was itself something of a parable
of death and resurrection;
erected, razed, reconstructed and refurbished
to represent and remind
of a presence, divine and beneficent.
In the end, it too, will be swept away;
for now it provides the stage
for a telling little domestic drama.
No mention, here, of his brothers and sisters;
they did what they were told,
and are therefore irrelevant to the story.
Disobedient Jesus, the errant son,
disregarding the deadline for departing.
The twelve year-old,
considered responsible enough
to not need chasing,
was assumed to be among the company,
and not missed until the first night’s camp.
It took another two days to find him.
The recorded rebuke is surely understated,
with a hint of the parental distress and pain;
the raised voices are left to the imagination.
No real excuses,
unless you count the
“had to be in my Father’s house,” line.
In this day he might have been grounded
for some weeks – maybe months.
Jesus learned his lesson, so we are told,
and, upon returning home,
practised a righteous obedience
that honoured his parents and kept them happy.
If, however, we take the later incident seriously,
when his mum and his brothers turned up
to take the troublesome son in hand,
it may have been feigned.

© Ken Rookes 2012


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