Schooled for Sacrifice by Anthony Esolen

Column: Illuminations

Schooled for Sacrifice

by Anthony Esolen

I've always been moved by that passage in Luke describing what the boy Jesus did when Joseph and Mary went up to Jerusalem for the Passover, and he stayed behind to listen to the rabbis, to question them, and to answer their questions in return. In me, sinner that I am, and I suppose in most boys, it can be explained by a desire to wriggle free of mother and father, to strike forth on your own and take the adventures as they come. In Jesus, it was a desire to strike forth into the things of his Father. "I must be about my Father's business," he says to Joseph and Mary, who do not know what he means by it.

But he returned with them to Nazareth, says Saint Luke, "and was obedient to them." Literally, he placed himself beneath them in the hierarchical order of the home. He was, we might say, as small as a mustard seed, buried like the treasure in the field, hidden like the yeast in the measures of dough. He gave us, without a single word, an eloquent model of Christian life, and he grew "in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man."

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Anthony Esolen is Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Thales College and the author of over 30 books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House) and, with his wife Debra, publishes the web magazine Word and Song (anthonyesolen.substack.com). He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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