…You shall seek the Lord your God and indeed you shall find Him when you search after Him with your whole heart and your whole soul (Deut. 4:29).
Our hearts are indeed restless until they rest in the Lord. Last night as my family was leaving Mass at Holy Hill Basilica, our Lord chose to give me powerful visual reminder of my need to remain close to Him. As usual we were among the last few folks out of the church. As is our routine, we had stayed to spend a few minutes in prayer, then chit-chatted with our dear friend Annie – the choir director – and her parents, asked Fr. Jude to bless us, and waited for the boys to leisurely put away their cassocks and amble out of the sacristy. Turning the corner to elevator we came upon two small, frightened children. They had been separated from their parents, and were deeply distraught. We joined a handful of adults in attempting to calm the youngsters and reunite them with their missing parents. Their sobs and tear-stained faces gripped this mother’s heart.
That overwhelmingly helpless feeling- LOST! We’ve all been there, and it is a heart- wrenching distress.
Several years ago, my husband and I were at the local zoo with our then seven kids and their grandparents. Paranoid as I am about losing a child, my kids were all dressed in brightly colored matching tie- dyed shirts. I often dressed them alike on such outings to make it easier to keep track of my brood. As our little group of eleven wound its way through the crowd, I lost sight of my daughter. When I had last seen her, she had a firm grasp on Poppie’s hand. Thus, I was certain she was safe with him, but when we all settled at the concession stand, my little girl wasn’t among our number. Panic, absolute panic! I can image how Mary and Joseph felt upon discovering that the Child Jesus was not among their caravan of relatives (Luke 3: 41-52). With “great anxiety” we too began to look for our child.
I sprinted across the zoo, frantically calling her name. When I finally found her, in front of the polar bears and seals, there were a few concerned adults comforting my distraught little girl. We had been separated for no more than 15 minutes, however time must truly be relative, because I know that I aged at least a decade in those moments. I was so grateful to those caring strangers who comforted her in my absence, a gratitude that was seconded only to that which I felt to God for her safe return. I hugged her close, and mumbled a quick “thank you” to Our Lord, her guardian angels and the Good Samaritans nearby.
LOST! What an awful feeling! The distress and danger are real, and every fiber of our being cries out to be reunited with those by whom we are known to be loved. The loved ones of the lost child endure an agony as great as that of the missing individual. Indeed, the Blessed Mother and Joseph were not spared this torment; thus, there must be profound lessons and grace that can be gleaned from it. This physical state of being is a living nightmare. However, as frightening as it is to be physically lost, it is even more dangerous to be spiritually lost.
Clinging close to Christ is our best defense. The closer we are to Jesus, the less likely we are to suffer the spiritual anguish of being missing. Yet, like my trip to the zoo, and the loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple, there are times that despite our best efforts, we succumb to spiritual dangers and lose sight of God – even if only for a little while. In those moments, we need to stay put, and cry out for Him. Like the Good Shepherd, he will seek us out. Nevertheless, like the children we helped last evening, there are times that the most expeditious way to find our way to Our Beloved is through the parental kindness of another. Just as my maternal instincts kicked into high gear at the sight of these youngsters’ tears, so too Our Heavenly Mother Mary’s maternal protection is secured when we cry out to her in need. She too is acutely familiar with the distress of losing her beloved young Son. Mary’s Immaculate, Motherly Heart will not be unmoved by our pleas – either for ourselves or our lost loved ones. She and St. Joseph will surely help us to be united with our loved ones in Christ Jesus – though God’s timetable and ours may differ.
As the elevator opened and the children were reunited with their equally distraught parents, fear melted into joy. How much joy must there be in Heaven when we repent, seek Sacramental Confession, are spiritually reconciled with our Lord? When Mary and Joseph finally encountered Our Lord in the Temple in Jerusalem:
They found him sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. All who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers. And 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?”
Those words cut across the millennia, and are as relevant for us today as they were when directed to Mary and Joseph two-thousand years ago. When we or our loved ones are lost, we need to cry out for help, humbly grasp Mary’s hand and seek the Lord in His Father’s House. For if we do so, He will rescue us, never letting one of His trusting little lambs be forsaken. We can have confidence in His words: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and save what was lost (Luke 19:10).”
May the Lord bless you and give you His peace.
Ad Jesum per Mariam
Thank you for this wonderful post! I remember getting lost as a child at the zoo in the dark reptile and aquatic animal building. It was so scary! And I lost my son Jack twice, once in the public grade school just as the children were arriving for the day and another time at Harrington Beach on the 4th of July. It was unbearable!!! Paul and I were once at the State Fair and we found a woman who had lost her two year old. The memory of her panicked cries still haunts me today.
I pray that we always remain spiritually close to our Savior and never lose sight of his tender love for us.
Thank you again, for sharing your memories and experiences-they are stories that everyone can relate to and help to reinforce the importance of living our faith well!
Thank you for sharing your experience as well. The image of a lost child is so powerful. I’m sure that is why God in His Wisdom allows us (and His own Mother and Foster Father) to experience this grief. I unite my prayer to yours to remain spiritually close to Our Savior – safety in numbers!
Your encouragement is such a blessing to me!