"After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions.... His mother said to him, 'Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.' And he said to them, 'Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?' "
"Having someone to love is family. Having someplace to go is home."
Today is the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
I have focused frequently on Jesus words in today's Gospel reading, "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" because they are part of the scripture passage that is the source of the Fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.
Because I have repeated this question often in my mind and sometimes with my mouth, I often think of it when I am in fact in our Father's house, listening to Scripture being read, or listening to and participating in the words and movements of the liturgy. Indeed, I do feel drawn there, and I go much more often than the "required" Sunday attendance for that reason. In fact, there is no other place that I feel more at home, no other place where I feel more like I belong.
The psalm read during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass today, Psalm 84, expresses this feeling perfectly:
"How lovely is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts! My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord. My heart and flesh cry out for the living God. As the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest to settle her young, my home is by your altars, Lord of hosts, my king and my God!... Blessed the ones who find refuge in you, in their hearts are pilgrim roads. As they pass through ... they find spring water to drink.... They will go from strength to strength.... Better one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. Better the threshold of the house of my God than a home in the tents of the wicked."
I am grateful that the Church provides for me—still merely a flesh and blood creature—not only a book in which I can read about this dwelling place, these "courts," and be moved to imagine eternity, but also a physical place, here and now, a space set apart and sacred, a refuge in which the body of Christ actually dwells and where I can experience a foretaste of heaven.