Catechism Lesson 12: The Life of Jesus Christ (Part 1)
Many things about Jesus which are of interest to human curiosity are not recorded in the Gospels. For example, nothing is said in the four Gospels about Jesus while He was growing up in Nazareth. Hence, these years were called the “hidden life” of Jesus. However, even though we do not know much about Jesus from His childhood up to the time when He began His public ministry at around age thirty, what was written about Jesus in the Gospels have been recorded “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him, you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)
The First Coming of the Son of God to earth is an event of such immensity that God prepared it for centuries. The prophets of the Old Testament announced the coming of Christ, and the rituals and sacrifices, figures and symbols of the Old Covenant all converge on Christ.
The Infancy and Early Life of Jesus
Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In the midst of all this poverty, the glory of heaven was manifested. Man’s creator has become man, born of the Virgin. Eight days after His birth, Jesus was circumcised as a sign of His submission to the Law, for He was born into the people of the covenant.
Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Three events in Jesus’ life are recalled in His Epiphany: the adoration of the Magi from the East, His baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist and the wedding feast in Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle.
The story of the Magi who followed the star in order to find the King of the Jews revealed Jesus as the light to the nations. The Magi are the first-fruits of the gentile nations, who came to worship and offer gifts to the infant Christ.
In the Presentation of Jesus in the temple, Simeon and Anna recognized the infant Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. In the words of Simeon, Jesus is the “light to the nations”, “the glory of Israel”, but also “a sign that will be contradicted.” (cf. Luke 2:32-34) The sword of sorrow which Simeon predicted for Mary foresaw the perfect and unique Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross that will impart the salvation of God. (cf. Luke 2:35)
After King Herod learned of the prophecy of the birth of the King of the Jews, he ordered the massacre of the children in Bethlehem. The Holy Family fled just in time into Egypt to escape Herod and his soldiers, but returned to Nazareth after the death of Herod in order to fulfill what the prophet foretold: “Out of Egypt, I called my son. (Hosea 11:1) The significance of Jesus’ return from Egypt was that just as Israel was called out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus, Jesus was also called out of Egypt in the New Exodus.
The Gospel of Luke relates the story of Jesus at the temple at the age of twelve. Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. When it was over and they were returning to Nazareth, Mary and Joseph did not know that Jesus had remained behind at the temple. Mary and Joseph looked for Jesus in the caravan, but not finding Him, they went back to Jerusalem. After three days of searching for Jesus, Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple sitting in the midst of teachers. Jesus said to them: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49) These words reveal that at the age of twelve, Jesus was already aware of His divine mission. Mary and Joseph did not understand what Jesus said to them, but Jesus went with them and returned to Nazareth; He was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. Growing up in Nazareth, Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man. (Luke 2:50-52)
- True or False. The “hidden life” of Jesus refers to His boyhood years when He was growing up in Nazareth.
- True or False. Jesus was circumcised eight days after His birth according to the Law of His people.
- What are the three events in Jesus’ life that marked His Epiphany?
- At the Presentation of Jesus in the temple, who were the two persons who recognized the infant Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah?
- Why did the Holy Family flee to Egypt?
- At the age of twelve, what did Jesus say to Mary and Joseph after they found Him in the temple?
- In what town did Jesus grow up into adulthood?