Reflection on the Lectionary: Luke 2:41-52
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Reflection on the Lectionary: Luke 2:41-52
(December 27, 2009)

This passage describes Jesus, when 12 years old, studying the Scriptures among the men in the temple. One remarkable aspect of this story is that it highlights Jesus learning and growing. The story relates that Jesus was “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Jesus was not born omniscient – he needed to learn about the letter and the intent of the law. Indeed, as Jesus learned from others, he “increased in wisdom and in stature” (2:52). I think that this has important implications.
If Jesus’ teachings were tantamount to “channeling” for God, his teachings might or might not make sense to humans. God’s ways are not necessarily human ways. If Jesus learned from fellow humans, then his teachings would reflect the understanding he gained from other people. It would be reasonable to expect Jesus’ teachings to accord with human understanding and wisdom. It also follows that we should be skeptical of religious authorities whose teachings “in the name of Christ” violate common sense or the notions of love, justice, and mercy that Jesus endorsed. It has always been tempting for religious authorities to affirm the self-interest of their target audience, playing for support and power by appealing to the prejudices and desires of the masses. We need to identify and reject such messages. A good rule of thumb is we should be on guard for messages that we find attractive that also endorse harming other individuals, particularly when that harm is justified by appeals to “the nation,” “purity,” or “God’s law.”

 I think an implication of this story is that we should not follow religious dictates blindly. If what religious authorities tell us violate our fundamental sense of justice and mercy, we need to prayerfully reflect on how Jesus would have regarded these messages. Though we need to remain mindful of the universal tendency to impose our values and beliefs onto our scriptures, those values and beliefs can be helpful guideposts as we seek to model our lives on Jesus’ life and teachings.

Go on to: Reflections on the Lectionary: Hebrews 10:1-10
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