The gaps…Have you ever wondered about the gaps? What I mean by the gaps is our understanding or even our description of the years which are missing in the accounts of the lives of the Theotokos and Christ. Yesterday, we celebrated to Presentation of the Theotokos. What happened from age three until the mid-teenage years when we know that the Annunciation took place? In the life of Jesus, we experience the Nativity, the flight to Egypt and his teaching in the Temple at age twelve. Afterwards, we have a gap until His public ministry begins at age thirty. Does anyone, besides me, wonder about the gaps?
We know that some material concerning these years can be found in ancient writings, which have always been known to the Church. These are materials that were not placed in the canonical sources. Some non-Orthodox “experts” have called these writings the “lost books” or “new sources” They were never lost, nor are they new. Orthodox monastics and theologians have used these sources to expand our understanding of the lives of the saints and events in salvation history. The Protevangelium Jacobi (The Infancy Gospel of James) states: “Now Mary was in the Temple of the Lord like a dove being fed and she received food from the hand of an angel.” The hymnographers, iconographers and poets of the Church have drawn on these writings to enrich our liturgical and faith experience. As we Travel to Bethlehem, perhaps reading some of these books could expand your understanding. We must know that the Church has not endorsed these writings as inspired by God, but looks on them as resources to expand and enhance our faith journey.