Fr Lucio Boccacci, LC, was inspired by his experience in youth ministry to investigate Jesus’ adolescence in the Bible. He has just completed his fourth book in a series on this topic, which he hopes to continue.
Fr Lucio, you’ve written a series of books on Jesus’ youth. How did you get to that theme?
Fr Lucio: It started when I was on my internship as a seminarian back in Chicago. Towards the end of that internship, about 2013, I had done a lot of research in youth ministry — there was lots of practical advice and theology, but I had never read anything substantial about what Jesus was like as a young person. Granted, there isn’t much in the Scriptures. In the books out there on youth ministry, there was almost nothing that spoke about what Jesus was like as an adolescent.
So, I thought, “Maybe there should be more, as we are trying to form adolescents in the image of Christ.” That’s what got me thinking about this.
After you started thinking about Jesus’ adolescence, what got you to your first book?
What got things moving was, in my first year of theology, we were asked to do a five-page commentary on Scripture, and I chose Luke 2:40-52. I took this passage to get me started, as this is the only passage where Jesus is 12 years old, an adolescent. Writing that, I began to do research and found some cool things happening in that passage, which spans up to 20 years of Jesus’ life, though it narrows in on a week of time in Jesus’ life.
Then, in second year, I asked to do my thesis as a commentary on this passage. So, I wrote a 30-page thesis after a lot of research. In my third year, I decided to turn that thesis and my other research into a book for lay people. Towards the end of that year, I decided to break it up into smaller, quick books, each one dealing with a different theme in this passage.
You’ve done a few books now. What is the division among the books that you’ve done, or that you might still be planning?
It will be about 10 books. The division is simple. The first book, Magnifying Glass, takes a look at the passage in the Gospel of Luke as a text, answering questions like “Who wrote this? What’s the structure? Did it happen? How is it interpreted?” We can learn from the way Luke structured it.
Book Two is called Boy Jesus, and it’s really about the life of Jesus as a boy in Nazareth, leading up to the moment when he goes on what’s probably his first pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
The third one, Passover, is about that walk south to Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover and then the actual celebration of the Passover in his circle of relatives and friends.
The fourth book I recently published is called Searching for Jesus; this one answers questions about how and why Jesus was left behind and what Mary and Joseph did to find him. How can an only child be left behind or lost?
The fifth one is The Wise Teacher, which is the next one I’m working on. It’s basically written but needs to be edited. It’s all about what Jesus did in the midst of the teachers in the temple those three days.
The sixth one is Embrace. It’s all about the moment when Jesus is found in the temple, and how Mary doesn’t understand his answer [when they ask Jesus why he stayed behind].
Number seven is called My Father. It is all about Jesus’ relationship with his [heavenly] Father and his answer. It’s the first time he speaks — that we know of in the Gospel — about the Father. It’s an interesting answer, with at least four possible interpretations.
The eighth one is Spirituality, and it’s all about Mary treasuring Jesus’ words in her heart — the second time that this is mentioned in Luke. This passage has a certain spirituality.
The ninth one is Man of the Kingdom. It’s a very tough one to write, as it deals with Jesus’ growth in wisdom and grace and his preparation for public ministry. It’s about how his life is different because of the temple experience. Also, how is it possible that he “grows” in wisdom? I try to answer those questions and combine that with a bit of adolescent development.
Books number ten and eleven: book ten will be Meditations for Adults and book eleven … for Teens. These are books of mediations based on the passage, which people can use to pray.
Who are these books written for, and what do you hope the reader gets from them? Are they written for teens or for adults working with teens?
The audience would primarily be adults, with the exception of the last book, which is meditations for teens. I would also like to write one book summarizing all of this just for teens and aimed at their life. I use a program that helps me bring it down to an eighth or ninth grade reading level. So, teens can read it and have read it.
My main goal with the books — a personal calling that I have felt — is to expand and make known the person and life of Christ as an adolescent. I’d love to make that part of his life better known. There isn’t a lot of information, but once you start digging you start seeing a lot about history, a lot about life in Nazareth and Galilee, and a lot of subtle clues in the Scripture about what that part of his life was like and what it meant for salvation history.
This is based on the Bible but also on the archeological and historical data of Israel at the time of Jesus, right?
It is based primarily on the actual passage: going really deep and finding all the nuances in those 13 verses, which is kind of amazing. Then, starting from that point, I use historical and archeological data, along with common sense.
Where can people find these books?
They can find them at Amazon. Look up “The Father’s Adolescence” or my name. You can also find out more about them at my website: www.thefathersadolescent.com.