“Let the canon of our and holy God-bearing Fathers be confirmed in this particular also; that a presbyter is not ordained before he is thirty years of age, even if he is a very worthy man, let him be kept back. Our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized and began teaching when he was thirty. In like manner, let no deacon be ordained before he is twenty-five, nor a deaconess before she is forty.” – Canon 14, Council in Trullo (692 AD)
This canon, patterned after Scripture, reflects the common sense of Luke’s gospel—an attitude that would become pervasive in early Christian traditions—it is good for a person to wait. Just as Jesus had no say in his name, like any human child, no matter how talented, wise, or knowledgeable—he was accountable to God to honor and obey his parents—to submit to instruction at home, and to wait until the appointed time to begin his ministry.
So strict is the hearing of this teaching in the Coptic church that a man is forbidden to seek ordination of his own free will. A candidate for the priesthood is only a candidate if he is called, in a very literal sense, if his bishop contacts him and says, I would like you to be ordained a priest. In this tradition, from the candidate’s perspective, everything—the time and even the opportunity to serve—is totally in God’s hands.
In a preview of what he will write in the Acts of the Apostles, Luke proclaims an increase in the wisdom of the child Jesus under the Law of the Lord. Jesus, at the age of twelve, is not the same man who will begin his teaching ministry at thirty. As Luke keeps stressing, the child, Jesus, continues to grow. In Luke, it is the Law of the that Lord imparts grace, and every person, including Jesus, must submit to it, even if it ends in crucifixion.
Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Luke 2:41-52
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