Ave Maria Meditations
Presence of God:
I beg the Blessed Virgin Mary to allow me to enter in spirit the humble home at Nazareth, to contemplate Jesus’ most admirable life there.
1. On this day for the last time in the cycle of the liturgical year, the Church invites us to contemplate the mystery of Jesus’ humble, hidden life. A feeling of close intimacy and tenderness characterizes this Feast and is expressed in the liturgy of the day: “ . . . it is good for us to recall the little home at Nazareth and the humble life of those who lived there . . . . In it, Jesus learned Joseph’s humble trade, and grew in age, and was happy sharing the work of a carpenter…
Today’s liturgy particularly emphasizes one typical aspect of the humble life of this hidden God: obedience. “ Although He was the Son of God . . . He learned to obey; He humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death”. From Bethlehem to Calvary obedience was His companion. The Gospel (Lk 2, 42-52) stresses this obedience of Jesus at Nazareth in words which carry for all time the strength of their first utterance, “He was subject to them.” Let us ask ourselves with St. Bernard, “Who obeyed? Whom did He obey?” The Saint replies, “God obeyed man! Yes, the God to whom the angels are subject . . . was subject to Mary, and not only to Mary, but also to Joseph. For God to obey a woman is humility without parallel…Learn then, man, to obey; learn, O earth, to be submissive. God subjected Himself to men; and do you, desiring to rule others, place yourself above your Creator?”
2. “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Jesus, who was so humble and submissive, did not hesitate to make this reply to Mary when she gently questioned Him about having remained behind in the Temple without her or Joseph’s knowledge, while they in anguish had been seeking Him for three days. These are the first words of Jesus which we find recorded in the Gospel. He spoke them in order to declare his mission and to affirm the primacy of the rights of God. When hardly an adolescent, Jesus taught us that God and the things of God must always come first. He must hold the first place in our lives, and we must obey Him regardless of all other considerations, even if it means sacrificing the rights of nature and of blood. Yielding to relatives and friends is no longer a virtue—and may even be sinful—if it leads us away from the will of God or hinders its fulfillment.
Giving precedence to the rights of God does not imply that we neglect our duties toward our neighbor. Today’s Feast calls our attention to these obligations, and especially to those concerning our family, natural or religious, inviting us to follow the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth. To this end, the Epistle (Col 3 ,12-17) shows us the virtues we should practice: “Clothe yourself . . . with mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, and patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another.”
O Jesus, how I love to contemplate You as a Child, in the poor house at Nazareth, with Mary and Joseph! Your simple, humble life was just like that of any other child of Your age. You, the splendor of the Father, did not wish anything to distinguish You from the children of men; You, uncreated wisdom, wished to learn from Mary and Joseph, Your creatures, the ordinary little details of life. Joseph showed You how to handle his tools and You watched Him attentively, You learned and You obeyed. Mary taught You holy hymns and recounted tales from the Sacred Scriptures; You listened to her like a humble disciple, You who are the one true Teacher, You who are Truth itself. No one, neither Your relatives nor Your fellow townspeople, knew who You really were. Everyone believed You to be the carpenter’s son and paid no more attention to You than they would have paid to an ordinary apprentice.
Only Mary and Joseph knew; they knew by divine revelation that You were the Son of the Most High, the Savior of the world, and yet they knew it more by faith than by experience. Your ordinary way of life concealed Your majesty and divinity from them so completely that when, without their knowledge, You remained among the doctors in the Temple, they could not understand the reason for Your unusual behavior. That incident, however, was an isolated one; immediately afterward, You wished to return to the hiddenness of Your most humble life. You went back with them, and were subject to them. And this, day by day, until You were thirty years old.
O most sweet Jesus, grant that I may imitate, at least to some degree, Your infinite humility! You, the Creator, were obedient to Your creatures. Teach me to bow my proud head and willingly obey my superiors. You came down from heaven to earth. Give me the grace to humble myself, to come down, once and for all, from the pedestal of my pride! How can I bear the sight of Your humility and self-effacement,O my God and my Creator, when I, who am nothingness and sin, use the gifts I have received to set myself above others, to prefer myself even to my superiors?
Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene? (Divine Intimacy)