“Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” –Lk. 2:49b

The Greek phrase usually translated to English as “in my Father’s house” can also be translated as “about my Father’s business.”  In journeying into a more fully understood image of my own vocation, I like to imagine the child Jesus proclaiming “about my Father’s business” is where he must be. So too, about God’s business must I be.

I believe the “must” in my life is where vocation, God’s dreaming of my life with me, is found. Must is different from should, need, or desire, though. While those may be helpful (or not) in understanding who I am, must goes deeper. Must is a non-negotiable requirement. It is a, if not the, defining aspect of who I am created to be. It is the “how can I keep from singing?” kind of condition.

These two ideas help create what the child Jesus is saying to his earthly parents. The child Jesus was certain: this “being about my Father’s business” was what he must be doing. Otherwise, he would not be Jesus. For the open, transparent, and faithful 12-year-old Jesus, who was entering religious adulthood in his Jewish faith, that must was in the temple.

As holy as they were, even the beloved Saints Joseph, who we celebrate today, and Mary did not understand Jesus’ must. Similarly, even those who love and know me the most may still not recognize my must. Even in their most humble of efforts to understand, my must does not come from others. The must of me, my vocation, who I was made to be, comes from God’s image within me.

What business of God is my must? Where is that must for me today? May I pay attention to and trust the must of my life. May I let that guide the co-creation of God’s dream for me. May God grant me the courage to make that dream my reality.

Vivian Valencia

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