IT is well known that we cannot fix with precise certainty the dates of many of the chief incidents in the Public Life. The history has to be made up from four different narratives, in each of which there are large periods of silence, and which do not contain, in all cases, indications of time sufficiently clear to make a perfect chronological arrangement possible, or, at least, certain. But it is quite possible to arrange the events which are thus set before us by the Evangelists in an order as to the accuracy of which there can be but little serious doubt, for the chief distinctive features of the successive periods into which the history divides itself are sufficiently plain to patient investigation. That is, we can be certain about the order of all the principal events, although we cannot say, with equal certainty, in what month of each of the three years those events are to be placed. The doubts that remain are, therefore, more concerning the intervals between this and that occurrence than concerning their relative chronological position. And the chief features of each successive period are clearly marked. After the Sermon on the Mount, which may be considered as the close of one period of preaching and the beginning of another, and after the significant miracles of which mention has just been made, we find another phase of our Lord's course put before us, in which a note is for the first time struck which sounds on with increasing power throughout the rest of the Public Life. That note is the note of opposition and persecution. Our Lord now appears before us as the object of both, and we have thus to study His conduct under a new light. Up to the time of which we have been speaking, there had been little of this. We remember that He had not been welcomed, to say the least, by the authorities at Jerusalem, who had already shown them selves unwilling to take part in the movement of penance and reformation of which St. John had given the signal. There was here a presage of hostility, not hostility itself. It was to avoid the notice of the rulers at Jerusalem that our Lord had retired, after but a short stay in Judaea, to the more distant Galilee, and had made that populous province the scene of His Ministry. Many months had now passed since the beginning of that course of preaching by our Lord. His fame as a Wonderworker and a Teacher had spread throughout the whole country, far and near, and people flocked to Galilee for the purpose of hearing Him, even from the most distant parts. It is certain, therefore, that He was most prominently before the public eye, and that His preaching and Person must have furnished matter for a large amount of inquiry and discussion. We do not find in the narratives of the Evangelists at this time, anything that can give us certain and positive information as to the attitude of the rulers at Jerusalem towards Him. On the occasion of the healing of the paralytic, we find mention of the presence of Pharisees at Jerusalem, but although there is murmuring among them at the novel claim to the power of forgiving sins, there is as yet no decided hostility among the scribes, at least in Galilee. The question put to Him and to His disciples about eating with publicans, fasting, and the like, were not unnatural, and do not of necessity imply ill will. 1
Humanly speaking, everything as to the success of our Lord's Mission depended on the manner in which He was received by the ecclesiastical authorities. When the Apostles went to preach in heathen countries, the case was different, except so far as there might be found there a class of priests, who lived and fattened on the profits which they derived from the service of the temples. But the Jewish hierarchy was the institution of our Lord Himself, and He bade the people, in His last discourses, do whatever they were told to do by these rulers, who sat in the seat of Moses. Our Lord came to fulfil, not to destroy, the Law and the Prophets, and the Chief Priests w r ere the living representatives of the one and the authorized interpreters of the other. Whatever might be the character of the men at that time occupying the chief positions in the hierarchy, the hierarchy itself was venerable, and to be treated with all due respect. But these men, as we have already seen in part, and shall see still more plainly, failed most signally and disastrously to understand and act up to their mission, and this was, in truth, the turning and decisive point in the external history of our Lord's preaching. They tried at least to be neutral, but neutral they could not be without losing their position, and then they seized the first pretext that presented itself to plunge into most unscrupulous and most disastrous hostility.
The time was now come for some call to be made on these rulers of Jerusalem to take some decisive attitude, and, as far as in them lay, give the people some guidance by their example as to the authority claimed by our Lord. What the witness was which they were meant to give cannot be doubted. But it is also clear that they were not prepared to give it. Their own worldly interests, their evil lives, their pride, their ambition, all stood in the way of their conversion, and without a true conversion to God they could do nothing for the Mission of His Son. This was to become manifest sooner or later, as our Lord said of them about this time, "He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me, scattereth." 2 The issue that was at stake was of enormous importance, and it was practically decided in the few weeks which passed after the Sermon on the Mount had been delivered.
Our Lord, as it seems, went up to Jerusalem for the Pasch, a year after that festival on which He had signalized the beginning of His authoritative teaching in Jerusalem by the solemn cleansing of the Temple. This action of His could hot be palatable to the Jewish authorities, but they contented them selves at that time with the question about His authority. A year had now passed, and all the country was ringing with His Name. We have no full account of the occurrences of this Pasch, which is not mentioned by any of the three first Evangelists. Moreover, St. John, to whom we owe w r hat we know about it, does not say distinctly that it was the feast of the Pasch rather than any other. He mentions it only for the remarkable occurrences which it relates. His narrative tells us of the miracle wrought by our Lord, entirely unsolicited, on the impotent man at the Probatic Pool, and the injunction laid on the person thus healed by our Lord to take up his bed and walk. This, as our Lord must have known, was an infringement of the law of the Sabbath, on which day the miracle was wrought. These circumstances are valuable to us, because they show us that our Lord worked the miracle with the direct aim of startling the Jews, and bringing on the long discussion with them which is related by the Evangelist in his fifth chapter. St. John tells us that this miracle wrought on the Sabbath day was the cause why the Jewish authorities persecuted our Lord, but he goes on immediately to mention another cause, namely, that He claimed to be the Son of God. The discussion which is given to us in that fifth chapter is of the utmost importance to the understanding of the history. In the course of it our Lord sums up the various evidences on which they ought to have believed in the Divine Mission— the witness of St. John, the voice of the Father, the witness of His miraculous works, the witness of the Sacred Scriptures, and even of Moses, in whom they trusted. "For if you did believe Moses, you would perhaps believe Me also, for he wrote of Me." 3 And He also puts his finger on the moral root of their incredulity, their love of human honour, and the like.
From this time, as has been said, the persecution of our Lord was a foregone conclusion with the authorities at Jerusalem. The incidents which follow on this time all converge in their witness to this fact. Those that are mentioned are such as the complaint made against the disciples for plucking and rubbing in their hands the ears of corn on the Sabbath which immediately followed—a fact which seems to prove what has been said above, that the feast just spoken of was the feast of the Pasch. Then follows the miracle on the man with the withered hand in the Synagogue, also on the Sabbath, after His return to Galilee, which is immediately succeeded by the conspiracy against our Lord, in which the Scribes and Pharisees joined themselves with the Herodians, that is, the political servants of the tetrarch in whose dominion Galilee lay. The plot had already gone so far as to aim at our Lord's destruction, and when the ecclesiastical and civil authorities were in formal league for this purpose, it was not likely that an occasion for its execution would not soon offer itself.
It is natural that contemplative souls should try to enter into the Sacred Heart of our Lord, and consider with what affections of loving grief and sorrowful disappointment He could regard the line of conduct which was now being recklessly adopted by His own priests, the very persons to whose lips it was that knowledge was committed who were the shepherds of the flock and the lights of the world.
To our Lord the whole future was present, and He could see beforehand all the issues of misery here and eternal ruin hereafter which were involved in the obstinacy of these priests and rulers, and their immense responsibility for the loss of thousands of souls and the practical closing of the way of salvation to many who would be influenced by their example. Alas! they represented to Him a long line of such miseries, lasting through each generation of the Church, as long as the world was to endure, and in that future those who were to be the enemies of their own souls and the destroyers of the souls of others, would be not ministers of the Temple or rulers of the Synagogue, but priests who had served at Christian altars, or even occupied seats of authority in the Catholic Church. No one could enter into these thoughts and sorrows of our Lord, no one could aid Him, so to say, by the most fervent and earnest intercession for these men, except His Blessed Mother. The disciples could not be warned of the danger into which these rulers of the people were running without some chance of scandal, and our Lord was always most careful in the way in which He spoke about these Priests.
Although the distant future was not open to her intelligence, Mary could perfectly understand the crisis that had now come, the issue that was now at stake, and all the possible consequences which might follow if these priests persisted in their hostility to the Gospel. She loved her nation, she loved the Temple and its holy services, she loved the rulers and chief priests for the sake of their holy office, and she was in a peculiar manner the child of the sanctuary. Her prayers would naturally rise for them with intense fervour, even if she had not known, by any instruction from our Lord, how great a cross was being prepared for Him in their dealings with Him. The souls who have inherited her special work of intercession in the Church are always very eager in their prayers for those who are in the dangerous posts of authority, whether in Church or State, and many a holy and laborious prelate has been helped on his way and shielded from a thou sand perils by their intercessions and penances. The founder, so to say, of the holy tradition of such intercessions must have been our Blessed Lady, They are an especial work which belongs to her.
There is something almost appalling in the thought of the Divine patience with which our Lord dealt with these His most bitter enemies throughout the whole of His earthly Ministry, the care which He took of their reputation and honour, the respect which He bade the people pay them, while at the same time He did not spare rebukes and reproaches and warnings when such were due to them from Him. The same wonderful patience is observable in the manner in which He continually allows Him self to be defeated and disappointed by the coldness, the jealousies, the narrowness, the exclusiveness, the pettiness's of those to whom great positions and fertile opportunities of good are committed in the Church, positions which prevent others from setting on foot works of zeal and charity with, at all events, the same prospect of success. Many such opportunities, if neglected when they occur, seldom return. The Church is naturally an aggressive and ever advancing kingdom, and her failures, such as they are, come more from the good that might be done and is not done, than from positive wickedness and evil.
Here there would be another large field for the earnest intercession of Mary. No doubt her prayers were offered with the greatest intensity and fervour for these priests and rulers, as they are offered now for those who fill in the Christian Church the position of responsibility then held by such as Annas and Caiphas. But we must remember that what has been said of the ecclesiastical rulers was also true, in its measure, of the people at large, and even of those among whom our Lord had now for some time been preaching, and teaching, and working miracles without number. We cannot lay on the rulers at Jerusalem the blame of all that coldness and dullness and insensibility of which our Lord complained, and which made Him, as we shall see, adopt very soon a more reserved manner of speaking to the people to whom the priceless treasures of wisdom contained in the Sermon on the Mount had been so freely offered. We cannot lay on these rulers the hardness of heart which brought down on the cities which had been so highly favoured by Him, as Corozain and Bethsaida, and on Capharnaum itself, those mournful denunciations of which the Evangelists are soon to give us an account. The warfare in which our Lord was engaged was most severe and deadly. The light had come into the world, and men loved dark ness rather than light, for their works were evil. The battle was raging in every single soul of all those who in any way came across our Lord. All depended on the line taken by each independent human will. Our Lord and the angels were on the one side, Satan and his hosts on the other, and the poor feeble souls in whom the decision lay were like men half awake in the midst of a raging fire, or on the deck of a foundering ship, roused against their will, overwhelmed by drowsiness, wishing for nothing so much as to be let alone as they were. It is not wonderful that God should have given so much weight under such anxious circumstances to the prayers of Mary, that, as one phase after another of this terrible struggle developed itself, each became a fresh call upon her charity and zeal in the work which was so peculiarly her own.
Soon after our Lord's return from Jerusalem, after the feast of which mention has been made, we find the Evangelists attributing to Him a certain change in His manner of dealing with the people, which is no doubt to be accounted for by the considerations contained in the last chapter. It is after the con federacy against Him on the part of the ecclesiastical rulers and the Herodians that we find St. Matthew speaking of His withdrawing Himself from the notice of His enemies, and applying to Him the beautiful prophecy of Isaias which foretold that He is not "to contend nor to cry out, neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. The bruised reed He shall not break, and smoking flax He shall not extinguish, till He send forth judgment unto victory, and in His Name shall the Gentiles hope." 4 He continued His miraculous cures, and His teaching of the people, and He also cast out the devils, whom He enjoined not to make Him known.
We now, therefore, enter on a new period in the Public Life, the incidents and features of which, as they pass before us, will suggest how many ever new and urgent calls they would make on the ever-watchful heart of the Blessed Mother, whose part in the whole of our Lord's active Ministry was to aid mainly by her prayers. The thoughts which have already come before us as to the preceding portion of His Ministry must be present with us as we advance, and it will not be necessary to go at any length into the details of this anxious time, the simple enumeration of which will be enough to remind us of the corresponding effects which they must have had in guiding, in this or in that direction, the intercession of our Lady. When we come to understand that the intense and energetic prayer of Mary followed like a shadow on the activity or the suffering of her Son, we shall understand how this is taken for granted in the Gospels, and furnishes, in great measure, the reason why her name is so seldom mentioned, never, indeed, except for some special purpose apart from her general and continual occupation by His side.
The special features of the period on which we thus enter are very striking in themselves. It is now that we hear of the first formation of the Apostolical Body. It was made up, in the first place, of the disciples who had joined our Lord before the first Pasch—Peter and Andrew, James and John, Philip and Nathanael, better known by his patronymic, Bartholomew. Then come Matthew and Thomas, whose call was subsequent to that of the first six. The remaining four consist of three of our Lord's cousins or relations, Simon and Jude, James the son of Alpheus or Clopas, and the future traitor, Judas Iscariot. They now were all to be our Lord's constant companions, and had power to heal sicknesses and cast out devils. A great onward step indeed was this in the formation of the new kingdom, and in every one of those thus called our Lady must have had a very deep personal interest. Her prayers for them were the beginnings of the intercessions of the Church for all those called to the Apostolical Ministry, in every generation and in every department of the work. She must have seen, moreover, that our Lord had now taken a decided step onwards, which must make Him even more obnoxious than before to the rulers at Jerusalem. For the formal call of the Apostles must have produced the impression that He meant to give an organization of His own to the mass of His followers, independent of any existing authority or institution. When He was taken before Annas, it is said that He was questioned concerning His disciples and His doctrine. The beginning of the formation of the Church as a separate power and living body dates from this time. 5
After the call of the Apostles, our Lord delivered the great teaching which is preserved for us by St. Luke, and which is known as the Sermon on the Plain, the Evangelist having specially mentioned the spot on which it was delivered, for the purpose, as it seems, of distinguishing it from the Sermon on the Mount. It follows that Sermon generally, but it omits large portions, and is characterized by the more severe and reserved tone which belongs to the public teachings of this period. Here again was an occasion for fervid prayer that the good seed thus plentifully sown might not be wasted. After this our Lord returned for a short visit to Capharnaum, and, while there, healed the servant of the Gentile centurion by a word, according to the beautiful prayer of his master, which has been adopted by the Church in her liturgy as the best expression for her children of devotion just before receiving Holy Communion. It may have been noticed in St. Matthew's application of the prophecy of Isaias lately quoted, how he selects words which speak of the hope of the Gentiles in our Lord. Here was an instance in a Gentile of faith which had not been found by Him in Israel, and which gave Him occasion to utter the famous words about those who were to come from East and West, and sit down with the saints in the Kingdom of God. 6 All this might turn the prayers of our Blessed Lady for those countless multitudes of the Gentiles, who were standing, in humble expectation, outside the door which was so soon to be opened wide to all.
The next miracle in the history is the raising of the son of the widow of Nairn, the first recorded instance of resurrection from the dead at our Lord's word. 7 It is probably for this reason that St. Luke mentions it as he has immediately after to mention the mission of the disciples of St. John Baptist to our Lord, asking Him the formal question whether He was the Messias Who was to come, the answer to which question contained a reference to miracles of the class to which that at Nairn belonged. We do not know that our Lady could have been present at the miracle, but her heart must have been moved intensely by such cases as that of the lonely mother, whose condition so closely resembled her own. The visit of the disciples of St. John was clearly brought about by him in order that his disciples, who were soon to be left without his guidance, might see and hear for themselves just what they did. It had not been necessary, in the counsels of God, to authenticate the mission of St. John by any miraculous signs. His austerity and holiness, and the answer which his preaching found in the consciences of his hearers, where the great truths to which he appealed were indelibly written. It was therefore something new for his disciples to witness the miracles of our Lord, Who bade them carry back the account of these to St. John in words which referred them to the passage in Isaias in which they had been predicted as signs of the Messias. 8 Thus the blessed Precursor would be enabled to bear what was to be his last witness to our Lord. Our Lord took the opportunity to speak of him in language of the highest praise, saying that there had not risen " among them that are born of women" a greater than John Baptist, though "he that is the lesser in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he," 9 and the like. He added the words in which the men of that generation, who had found fault both with St. John and with Himself to the children in the market-place, whom nothing could please.
These words were soon followed by those already referred to in denunciation of the blindness and abuse of opportunities of which the cities to which He had preached, and where He had wrought so many miracles had been guilty. It was to be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon and Sodom in the Day of Judgment than for them. And these severe words, again, were soon followed by those others, full of tenderness and joy, in which He thanked His Father for that arrangement of His Providence by which the truths of the Kingdom had been hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto little ones. "All things are delivered to Me by My Father, and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father, neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal Him." 10 And then came forth that gracious invitation, "Come to Me, all you that labour, and are burthened, and I will refresh you. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, because I am meek, and humble of heart, and you shall find rest to your souls. For My yoke is sweet, and My burthen light." And we learn from that comparison of the Gospels which is the special work of the Harmonist, that this gracious call was directly followed by Magdalene, who came, when she heard where He was, in the Pharisee's house, to throw herself at His feet in search of forgiveness, washing His feet with her tears, anointing them with her ointment, and wiping them with the hair of her head. 11
If Magdalene was so great a treasure as she is believed to have been to the Sacred Heart of our Lord, it is easy to see how dear she must have become to His Blessed Mother, who would watch over her as the first and the pattern of penitents devoting themselves entirely and without reserve to the service of her Master. It is now that we hear of the formation of a small band of pious women, most of them ladies who had received great boons at His hand, who made it their business to follow the course of our Lord and His Apostles, ministering to them of their substance. After the selection of the Twelve to be His inseparable companions, it became almost necessary that some such provision should be made. For our Lord might readily have found for Himself such food and hospitality as He required, but a band of twelve followers made a large number to impose on any one who might be inclined to entertain Him. It was also better that the Apostles should be kept, now that their more formal and continuous training had begun, as much together as possible, and, at the same time, apart from other people. It must remain uncertain whether our Blessed Lady went about with these holy women as their Mother and Superior. There would be many other useful offices which they would have to discharge, besides that of providing for the temporal wants of the Apostolic band, for there must have been always a large number of their own sex seeking instruction and guidance and introduction to our Lord. It might seem natural that our Blessed Lady should have been at their head. On the other hand, if she was set apart, so to speak, that she might be the perpetual companion of our Lord's thoughts and designs, and the continual intercessor for the wants of the souls who might come under the influence of His teaching, the life of activity and constant external employment might be more distracting for her than was meet. It happens that the next actual mention which is made of her seems to show that a short time after the point which we have now reached she was still in the company of our Lord's near relatives, who are called in the Gospels His brothers, and therefore, at Capharnaum.
The next incidents in the period before us are such as mark the ever-increasing malignity of the enemies of our Lord. It is now that we meet for the first time with the calumny set on foot by the Scribes and Pharisees about the league which they declared to exist between Him and Beelzebub, in virtue of which He cast out devils. It is now also that we find them beginning to beset Him with their demands for a sign from Heaven as a proof of His mission. These marks of hostility drew from our Lord very severe though calm words, in which He spoke of the extreme danger of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which could not be allowed to pass unpunished either in this world or in the next. He told them of the miserable state of the man out of whom the devil had been cast, only to return again with seven others more wicked than himself. He spoke of the sign of Jonas, and of the rebuke which the men of that generation would receive from the men of Nineveh and from the Queen of the South. 12
The Evangelists tell us that it was while our Lord was speaking on this subject to the multitude, that the incident occurred which brings us to the one direct mention of our Lady's name in the course of their narratives at this time. It was, apparently, at a time when He was returning from one of His missionary circuits to Capharnaum for a short visit. As He was still preaching to the people, His Mother and His brethren came to the place, desirous of speaking with Him. The object of their visit is not given, for it was not important for the purpose of the Evangelists to relate it. The reason why this incident is mentioned is quite obvious. It is mentioned because it furnishes the opportunity of exhibiting our Lord's example in the case of persons engaged in the Apostolic Ministry, when some interruption occurs on account of the natural claims of family duty and affection. There could not have been many such occasions in the course of our Lord's teaching, and this it is that makes this one so precious to us. It was very natural that our Blessed Lady and His brethren should hasten to meet Him as soon as they heard of His approach, if He was now returning to them. And perhaps they had some special reason for wishing to speak with Him immediately, such as might be the desire to warn Him of the danger that He might incur from His ever-watchful enemies. He was comparatively safe from these when He was going about from town to town in Galilee, for they could never be certain of the course He would take, and wherever He was, He had a great multitude of followers with Him. He would not be so safe in a town like Capharnaum. But whatever was the object of our Lady and His brethren, which we are not told, He was engaged in teaching the multitude, and could not be interrupted, although she may not have known how He was engaged. Thus she gave Him the great opportunity of leaving behind an example which has been most fruitful of good in all ages of the Church. "And answering, He said, Who is My Mother and My brethren ? And looking round about on them who sat about Him, He said, Behold My mother and My brethren ! For whosoever shall do the will of God, of My Father that is in Heaven, he is My brother and My sister and My mother." 13
It need hardly be said that no one would rejoice more than our Blessed Lady at the thought that she had given an occasion to so pregnant an ex ample of indifference to human ties on the part of our Lord. As this incident has been laid hold by the enemies of the honour of our Lady, it may be worth while to remark that, to the eyes of the world and of the multitude, He was^in exactly the same relation to her and to those who were called His brethren as any one else to his mother and brethren after the flesh. It would not, therefore, be reason able to conclude that our Lord meant to deny to her any honour or deference which might be due to her on grounds which the people knew nothing of, such as her incomparable sanctity and closeness to Him, and the like. If He had acted in any other way, He might have given the same false impression as might have resulted, if He had left the school of the Temple, when He was twelve years of age, at her call, without setting forth clearly that He was independent of all earthly ties when the business of His Father was concerned. And He might not only have left a false impression as to His dependence on her, but He would have left behind Him in His own conduct a sanction for the mischievous doctrine that parents have a right to be attended to by their children even when engaged in the functions of the sacred ministry. Thus the meaning of the whole incident is to be gathered from the first words of St. Matthew, " While He was yet speaking to the crowd."
So far it is quite clear that our Lord could have meant nothing disparaging to His Mother, but only to assert the pre-eminent rights and duties of the sacred ministry of the Word of God. Another question is sometimes raised, because some writers have been inclined to impute some imperfection to our Blessed Lady on account of her simple presence on this occasion, as if it implied presumption, or interference, or impatience, and the like. The mere formation of such a surmise would be impossible to any one who had a right conception of our Lady's pre-eminent virtues, and especially of her humility. To those who have such a conception, it will be natural to interpret the circumstances in accordance therewith, and it is perfectly gratuitous to interpret them otherwise. Our Lady \vas occasion ally left in ignorance of certain facts about our Lord belonging to a class which was usually not hidden from her, as was the case in the mystery of the Twelfth Year, of which mention has just been made. She may not have known how our Lord was occupied, or she may have made know r n her desire to speak with Him, having some good reason for doing so, without intending Him to be interrupted in His discourse. A score of surmises may be formed as to these matters, quite as reasonable as any that have ever been formed so as to impute some imperfection to her, and far more so. But the Evangelists simply tell us the facts and no more. Their object was to put forward the saying of our Lord about those who do the will of His Father Who is in Heaven. If His Mother had not been there, the chief point of the saying would be lost, and thus the occasion for this most precious example and instruction could be furnished by no one but herself. Moreover, it is clear that this incident happened most opportunely. Our Lord was now beginning to be exposed to the effects of the persecution which had been organized against Him by the scribes and priests at Jerusalem, whose emissaries, or representatives, in Galilee had come to an understanding with the officials of the civil government, that He was to be got rid of in some as yet undetermined way. The influence of the priests had to some extent told on the people, though it was impossible to destroy His influence and prestige, even by the malignant calumnies which were put in circulation about Him. His miracles still attracted, and the charm of His Person was the same as ever. But it was becoming clear that to follow Him, and much more, to follow Him at all closely, might soon require much courage and great detachment from the world and ordinary earthly ties. It was soon after this that He told one who volunteered to be His follower, that the foxes had holes and the birds of the air nests, but the Son of Man had not where to lay His head. And to another He had refused permission to go and bury his father before joining Him. He could hardly have used the latter words with equal effect if He had just left off His preaching to the people to receive a visit of affection from His Mother.
The same kind of detachment which was enjoined on the occasion when the disciple w r as not allowed to go to his father's grave, was to be enjoined also in very strong language when our Lord, soon after this, gave to the Apostles the great instruction as to the Apostolic Life which St. Matthew records in his tenth chapter. We can thus see how it was that He thought it well to lay down the principle of detachment so strongly on this^ occasion, and also how this incident stood out from a number of others in the minds of the Evangelists. They could have told us, beyond a doubt, a thousand anecdotes of our Lord's tender love and deference towards His Mother, but these were not so necessary for the instruction of the Christian people. His love and reverence for her were matters of course. His severity in asserting the principle here asserted was all the more noteworthy.
There are two more considerations to be urged before we quit this incident. First, the direct tendency of our Lord's words is not simply to declare the comparative insignificance of merely earthly and natural ties, even to Himself. If He had meant no more than that, He would not have used the language which He did use. What He did say was that His disciples, and those who did the will of His Father in Heaven, were His brothers and His sisters and His mother. That implies the closest and most affectionate union between Himself and His disciples, that He had nothing more dear to Him than those who did His Father's will. This is a positive statement of infinite value to us, and it is a statement which must have rejoiced our Lady's Heart as truly as it expressed the feelings of our Lord's Heart. Mary did not wish to have His love to herself, she wished, as far as possible, that He should be able to love all as He loved her. And again, because she was His natural Mother, she was not the less His disciple. Because her womb had borne Him and her breasts had given Him suck, she was not precluded from gaining that higher title to His love and to union with Him which was to rest on her faithful obedience to the will of His Father. On the contrary, her great privileges and her great sanctity were all founded on her selection as His Mother. Those who believe that she was a mere involuntary instrument in bringing about the physical part of the Incarnation, may see in these words something of disparagement to her. For she was near and dear to Him, far more for her spiritual graces and incomparable virtues, than because she was His Mother after the flesh, if nothing else was to be considered. Those who understand her real greatness, and the dealings of God with her, and her faithfulness to His grace, will see in the words now used by our Lord the most powerful of all reasons for her pre-eminent dearness to Him.

1 Story of the Gospels, § 40.
2 St. Matt. xii. 30.
3 St. John v. 46.
4 Isaias xlii. I.
5 Story of the Gospels, §§ 46—49.
6 Story of the Gospels, § 50.
7 Ibid, § 51.
8 Isaias xxix. 18, 19; xxxv. 5, 6; Ixi. i; xxvi. 19.
9 Story of the Gospels, §§ 52, 53.
10 Story of the Gospels, § 54.
11 Ibid. § 55.
12 story of the Gospels, §§ 56, 57.
13 St. Matt. xii. 46—50; St. Mark iii. 31—36