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Today’s Gospel follows the joyous celebration of Jesus’ birth and invites us to continue our festivities for the feast of the Holy Family. Throughout Luke’s Gospel, we learn about Jesus, his identity, and the growth of his ministry. In today’s passage, Luke continues to help us understand Jesus. In this instance, it’s in the context of his childhood.

Our Gospel tells us that each year, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph travel to Jerusalem as a family for the Feast of Passover. In Jesus’ twelfth year, Mary and Joseph start on the journey home, only to realize that Jesus is missing.

Scared, Mary and Joseph return to Jerusalem and find Jesus in the temple, “sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.”

When Mary asks her son why he had strayed, Jesus says, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Mary raised Jesus with love, faith, and patience. But even she did not understand that when her son stayed back in the temple, he was at peace in the house of his father. It was not until Mary watched Jesus grow his ministry that she came to fully understand.

Just like Mary, when we are presented with something unfamiliar, it can be hard to recognize its meaning. And if we don’t allow ourselves the time to understand, we may miss out on something great.

While we reflect on our Christmas celebration, we will leave you with the words of Sarah Rubino, a long-term volunteer who spent Christmas in Nzara, South Sudan during her first volunteer term with CMMB. Her words feed into the theme of today’s Gospel by reminding us that just because something is unfamiliar, does not mean that it lacks meaning. In fact, in this case, the meaning may be even greater.

Sarah Rubino treats a child. She exemplifies our volunteer principles

Sarah Rubino in Nzara, South Sudan

Christmas in Nzara does not contain big gifts under a Christmas trees, or houses covered in lights, or other material symbols that  – at least for us – indicate a celebration.

But it is filled with laughter and dancing, and it is celebrated as a community together. The joy, undistracted by commercials and not hidden under wrapping paper, becomes all the more palpable.

From all of us at CMMB, we wish you a joyous Christmas and a healthy new year.

In grace and peace,


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*Portions of today’s reflection were adapted from and inspired by the Loyola Press Sunday Connection.