Five years ago we took our family to Sea Life Aquarium, which is located inside the great Mall of America. It was an awesome afternoon of gawking at the fascinating marine life. By late afternoon we were all pretty tired and hungry and ready for our long drive home.
We jumped on the escalator to get out of the exhibit area. This led to the grand entrance of the Mall. All we had to do was go through the doors straight ahead of us and we were on our way out to the parking ramp. As we were passing through the doors, I did a quick headcount, as I had done many other times that afternoon. But this time, I came up one short!!
My heart dropped out of my chest. Terror immediately rose up inside of me as I thought about my (then) six-year-old heading up the escalator alone and instead of walking straight toward the door like the rest of us did, turning and getting swallowed up by the shoppers in the LARGEST MALL IN THE USA!
For the sake of my other kids, I pretended to look calm and said, “Well, let’s go back downstairs and grab him!” Although I doubted the likelihood of this scenario.
My husband went down alone, and I stood at the top of the escalator with the other kids in case he was up there somewhere. I was praying like a mad woman, begging God to keep my little one safe. I asked him to protect him from all danger and harm.
I asked God to keep him calm, as this was my impulsive child. I didn’t know what to expect from him. Would he throw a huge tantrum and start screaming and throwing things? Would the adrenaline kick in and would he just take off running as fast and far as he could in a panic? Or would he just freeze? What if someone kidnapped him and was on the next flight out of the country already? I thought of many things too awful to even mention.
But praise the Lord for His goodness!
Adam found him standing near the bottom of the escalator with a security guard by his side. The guard said he saw my son frantically looking around while standing all alone so asked him if he was lost. He didn’t say much to the guard, but just nodded his head. The two of them stood side by side until Adam came to his rescue.
What felt like an eternity of agony really only lasted 5 minutes or so… but I bet it took a good 5 YEARS off of my life!
This is the story that comes to mind when I meditate on both the 3rd Sorrow of Mary, the Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple, and the 5th Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the Finding of Our Lord in the Temple.
Those 5 minutes gave me just a little taste of what Mary and Joseph would have experienced. For them it wasn’t 5 minutes but 3 whole days! I CANNOT IMAGINE what that must have been like. Jesus was lost in a city with a population of roughly 20,000-30,000. But remember that this was during one of the great feasts when Jerusalem was known to swell to close to 250,000 people!
Did they wander the streets echoing the cry of the spouse in the Song of Solomon, “Have you seen Him Whom my soul loves?”
St. Alphonsus Liguori argues that this is the greatest and most painful of all 7 of the sorrows, as this is the only sorrow that Mary had to suffer without Jesus. It is in this sorrow that she can console those who are experiencing desolation.
He continues, saying, whoever wishes to find Jesus, must seek Him, not amidst delights and the pleasures of the world, but amidst crosses and mortifications as Mary sought Him. “Learn, then, from Mary,” says Origen, “to seek Jesus.”*
Dear Sorrowful Mother Mary, please direct us in our search for Christ. Show Him to us, and teach us to love Him as you loved Him. Amen.
Until next time, your sister in Christ,
*Source from Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori pg. 508