Church Windows – The Finding in the Temple – Young and Old in Dialogue

 January 8, 2018

A young, bare-foot, baby faced Jesus, standing in the Temple and speaking to older, learned scholars. Why is it so surprising? He needed to be about his Father’s work. Twelve years back in that time, would have been more like 18 or even 21 in our time where we postpone adolescence into the twenties so maybe it’s not as extraordinary as we make it out to be.

Howard Dean this past week stated it was time for the older generation to make way for the younger generation. This isn’t to dismiss the wisdom that comes with years, but rather to support the natural role of those who are older as mentors, making a path for those who come after us. If we are truly wise, we are able to recognize the wisdom of youth. There are young people among us who shine with talent, whether musical ability, or knowledge of physics and computer science. What they are lacking is the perspective and wisdom that age gives.

I like to think of this picture as an exchange of knowledge, Jesus revealing aspects of faith that had not occurred to the religious leaders of his time. Jesus and the scribes and pharisees bantering back and forth, honing his teaching ability by engaging in an active dialogue with his elders. Surely it wasn’t a one-way street. As an adult Jesus regularly engaged his listeners with questions, inviting them into dialogue. And so Jesus, at twelve, was ready to begin his apprenticeship as a preacher and teacher, amazing all those who heard him.

We know what happened to Jesus after this event. He was taken back to his home in Nazareth and was obedient to his parents. What of the men who had heard his wisdom? Did they go home changed from the boy-Jesus’ words, or did they disregard them as the words on an inexperienced young man? How often do we disregard the wisdom of youth? Old and young, we need each other. Those who are older need the insights, knowledge and energy of a new generation, and those who are young need the wisdom that comes with age. 

This window challenges me to wonder at the wisdom found in this young boy, and marvel at the gift of old and young gathered together in dialogue.

How can we promote this dialogue?


This post is part of a series of reflections on St. John’s church windows.   click here to follow blog


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