In The Tree of Life, St. Bonaventure reflects on how Jesus was exiled from his kingdom to avoid the massacre of innocents by King Herod and eventually returned to Judah. The boy Jesus “never left [his parents] for a moment except when, at twelve years of age, he remained in Jerusalem, causing his mother much sorrow while she sought him and bringing her much joy when he was found.” The painting above beautifully depicts the turmoil and relief in Mary’s face. I am sharing the passage below because I love how Bonaventure invites the reader to be contemporaneous with Jesus and his mother, feeling what she felt when her son seemed lost in a big city. This is a fine example of the ancient practice of the church called lectio divina, “a slow, contemplative praying of the Scriptures which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of union with God.”
Do not, then, leave the mother and Child
as they flee into Egypt
without accompanying them.
With the beloved mother looking for her beloved Son,
do not cease searching until you have found him.
O, how you would weep
if with devotion
you could look upon so venerable a lady,
so charming a girl,
in a foreign country
with so tender and handsome a little boy;
or if you could hear the sweet complaint
of the loving mother of God:
Son, why have you done this to us?
as if she would say:
Most beloved Son,
how could you give such sorrow
to your Mother,
whom you love
and who loves you