Feast of the Holy Family - Year C
The priest-prophet Samuel was one of the pivotal figures in the history of Israel. He would guide the country during its transition from a loose confederation of tribes to a kingdom. Samuel appointed the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David.
The prophet's own life bears the stamp of the miraculous. His mother, Hannah (or Anne) had been sterile. She came to the shrine where the Ark of the Covenant was kept and prayed for a child. In her petition to God, Hannah promised that if she conceived she would dedicate her son to the Lord. In gratitude for the birth she calls her son Samuel, which means "his name is God". Then she consecrates the boy to a nazirite vow, like that made for Samson. Samuel's hair will never be cut and he will take no strong drink. Finally, she surrenders her son to be a servant at the shrine.
JESUS' BAR MITZVAH?
We know nothing of Jesus' childhood, except for one curious incident when he was twelve years old. Luke describes a visit to Jerusalem "for the feast of Passover". There may be more to the story than is apparent. Jewish boys pass to manhood through a ceremony called "Bar Mitzvah" or "Son of the Commandment". They take on adult responsibilities and can join the men in prayer. Normally this takes place at the age of thirteen, but there are circumstances where it can happen in the twelfth year. If so, this is the oldest reference to the ceremony. Part of the rite involves reading the scriptures and answering questions. We see Jesus being quizzed and asking questions in the Temple, as would befit the ritual. It might be compared to our Sacrament of Confirmation.
As a child, Jesus would have traveled with the women on the pilgrimage to the Holy City. After Bar Mitzvah he could join the men. This may explain why neither Mary nor Joseph noticed his disappearance. Each may have thought that he was with the other group.
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