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The Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Year C

The Holy Family 

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Well one of the interesting things is that in Jewish tradition, not the Bible, but in Jewish tradition, the boy Samuel was 12 years old when he went into the tabernacle and was called by God, heard that voice, and began to prophesy. So for example, Josephus, the First Century Jewish historian, in his book The Antiquities of the Jews, says this about the boy Samuel when he was 12 years old; listen:

Now when Samuel was twelve years old, he began to prophesy: and once when he was asleep, God called to him by his name; and he, supposing he had been called by the high priest, came to him...

Then Josephus goes on to say God did this three times. So notice what's taking place here. In Jewish tradition, the famous story of the call of Samuel by God to be a prophet took place when he was 12 years old in the tabernacle. There wasn’t a Temple yet, so the tabernacle was the equivalent of the temple until the temple was built by Solomon, but it’s in the sanctuary of the Lord, in the house of the Lord, in the dwelling place of the Lord. So what some scholars have suggested is one of the reasons Luke tells you that Jesus was 12 years old is because he wants to reveal to us that Jesus, likewise, is coming into his own into his role as priest and prophet and king. He's entering into his identity as the messianic Son of God. Now if you have any doubts about that typology there's no question about it when you look at the end of Luke's account because you’ll notice, what was the last thing Luke said about Jesus in the gospel? It says that he increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. Now if you were a First Century Jew and you knew the Old Testament, you would know that that is almost a direct quotation from the Book of Samuel. So, this isn’t in the readings for today, but, if you go back to 1 Samuel 2:26, it says this:

Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men.

It’s almost verbatim. So what is Jesus doing? What is Luke doing in his account of Jesus in the finding of Jesus in the temple? He's revealing to us that Jesus is like a new Samuel. He is the new boy prophet who is going to speak the word of the Lord in the house of the Lord, and whose life is going to be totally dedicated to God, totally dedicated to his father's will, totally dedicated to the priestly sacrifice that he's going to ultimately offer of himself on Calvary...

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The Old Testament, A historical and Theological Journey

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