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We read in Luke 2: 43-46, the incident relating to the visit of child Jesus and his parents to the Temple and his `getting lost' at Jerusalem:

After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.

The distance they would have to cover from Jerusalem to Nazareth was 65 miles and it would take them days together to complete the journey. Some traditions say (sorry, I am not able to quote any reference) that in those days, men and women took separate routes because of which each of the parents was unable to communicate with the other, the presence of children with either of them. One is, however, unable to know why it took one day for Jesus'parents to realize that he had been left behind. My question therefore, is: who does the Catholic Church explain the time of one day that Jesus' parents took to conclude that boy Jesus had been left behind at the Temple in Jerusalem.

  • It is only supposition, and therefore not sufficient for a proper answer, but was Jesus, as a boy, already becoming as he was when full-grown : pensive, prayerful, solitary ? So did his parents get used to him being in the background, following at a distance, deep in thought, unnoticed ? – Nigel J Oct 9 at 10:20
  • Also the text says that there were relatives and friends in the party, and it may well have been assumed that he was with them. Also at this time Jesus was almost an adult, by contemporary Jewish standards. His parents would not have felt the need to check up on him as much. – DJClayworth Oct 9 at 15:01
  • This has been offered as evidence that Joseph and Mary had more kids. Had they only one child they wouldn’t have been distracted and left without him – Kris Oct 9 at 20:44
  • It couldn't 'evidence' it if, at best, it's ambiguous whether or not "And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance" means he would have been but one among many family members and friends, and assumed to be safe in their company at that. Also, Mary's "how shall I conceive if I don't know man?" is nothing if not conclusive evidence that she excluded the natural means of conceiving Jesus, which in turn obviously excludes people who are not the Messiah (if she isn't willing to make an exception for Christ...). – Sola Gratia Oct 9 at 22:31
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Luke 2:43-44--and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day's journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances.

As DJClayworth mentioned in his comment above, it may well have been assumed that he was with them There's no evidence that His parents even questioned His being in the caravan. He would have been among relatives and acquaintances and there would be very little reason for them to believe He was elsewhere.

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(As this is tagged Catholicism) Catholics don't believe that everything in the Bible is to be taken entirely literally. It could have been 3 actual days; it might not have been. However, it foreshadows Jesus' death and Resurrection. He disappeared for 3 days (in His tomb) and on the third day reappeared.

  • Could you include so me references, links and Catholic commentary into your response. This would greatly improve your answer. – Ken Graham Oct 13 at 12:32
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Why did Joseph and Mary take one day's time to realize that Jesus had been left behind at the Temple?

As they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day's journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. (Luke 2:43-44)

The answer is quite simple as Miles Flett explains. In fact Blessed Catherine Emmerich mentions this episode in the life of the Child Jesus.

In those first visits, Jesus had already excited attention in Jerusalem among the friends with whom He and His parents stayed, also among the priests and doctors. They spoke of the pious, intelligent Child, of Joseph's extraordinary Son, just as amongst us one might, at the annual pilgrimages, notice in par­ticular this or that modest, holy-looking person, this or that clever peasant child, and recognize him again the next year. So Jesus had already some acquain­tances in the city when, in His twelfth year, with their friends and their sons, He accompanied His parents to Jerusalem. His parents were accustomed to walk with the people from their own part of the country, and they knew that Jesus, who now made the journey for the fifth time, always went with the other youths from Nazareth.

But this time Jesus had, on the return journey not far from the Mount of Olives, separated from His companions, who all thought that He had joined His parents who were following. Jesus had, however, gone to that side of Jerusalem nearest to Bethlehem, to the inn at which the Holy Family before Mary's Purifi­cation had put up. Mary and Joseph thought Him on ahead with the other Nazarenes, while these lat­ter thought that He was following with His parents. - Catherine Emmerich, 30. The Holy Family at Nazareth. Jesus at the Age of Twelve in The Temple of Jerusalem (page 325)

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