It's the end of the year, and most of us are in holiday mode - not school mode, the temptation is to relax and look back, recount a few stories perhaps.
But the gospel has us focus on our schooling in the faith, and there's always something timely about the Word of God.
I know that for children and teachers this is the season of trying to forget about school, but the story in the gospel of the boy Jesus going to the Temple in Jerusalem is very much about school, about learning, in what for Jesus was a holiday school.
The story begins as every parents nightmare. Their first born son goes missing on a family holiday away from their familiar surroundings. It's an honest story of tension and drama, as, dare we suggest it, the young Jesus does something to cause his parents a lot of heart ache.
They are a day's journey out of Jerusalem when the awful discovery is made, "I thought he was with you." No, I thought he would be with you, where is he?" You can imagine the buzz going around the group of travellers. " Is he hiding? "Have you seen Jesus? Where did you see him last?, What will we do"
And then Mary and Joseph have to walk all the way back to Jerusalem to look for their wayward son.
It gets our attention anyway, but the teller of the story isn't really interested in the question of discipline and obeying one's parents at this point. The focus of the story is on Jesus learning in the temple and the fact that all who heard the questions he asked and the things he said in the discussion were absolutely amazed by what they heard!!
I have the feeling that this isn't just an interesting story to fill a blank spot in the holy family story album, either. This is the only episode we hear of from Jesus growing years. We don't know if he helped Joseph in the carpenters shop, we don't know if he helped his mother get the shopping at the local market, but we do know that Jesus was a keen student of the scriptures. We know that at 12 he was astonishing the scholars, debating, questioning, listening. And at this time of year the gospel could inspire us, to ask some questions of ourselves, when we might have a little time to reflect on the year behind us.
What have you and I learnt in the year gone?
Are we in fact still learning, do we expect to learn and grow in our faith and our understanding? Or have we been truant or daydreaming through the lessons God has for us to learn from?
And what have the results been for us in God's school of life if we were to get a report card?
For myself, one of the things I've had brought home to me, something that this story illustrates, is the necessity of involving children. Children of all ages need to have opportunities to learn and grow in faith, to ask questions, to be included in every possible way in the life of the church. If Jesus at 12 could talk to and question the Rabbis at the centre of learning in his culture - we need to do all we can for the children amongst us. It's something we pledge to do every time we baptize a child, but as adults, we're responsible to make sure it happens.
May God's grace enable each of us to learn and to grow in our faith and love. God bless you all. Amen