|By NATALE SCHIAVONI (Itália, 1777-1858)|
If the mere touch of the hem of His garment could cure a woman suffering with an issue of blood, then the human mind can hardly contemplate what thirty years of residence with the eternal Logos of God must have done for a human mind. After the years of companioning with Philip, Our Blessed Lord said to him, somewhat impatiently, at the Last Supper: "Have I been with you all this time and still you do not understand?" How much greater an understanding of His mysteries He must therefore have expected of His Mother, who had suffered with Him during all His hidden life!
Returning again to the idea of His obedience: the Gospel indicates immediately three effects of Our Lord's submission and obedience, namely, growth in age and grace and wisdom. The first effect of obedience is age, or bodily perfection. The inverse of this truth is that disobedience to nature destroys bodily health - disobedience to God's law spoils spiritual health. By submitting Himself to the laws of human development, He consented to an unfolding which in childhood should exhibit a perfect child; in youth, a perfect youth; and in manhood, a perfect man. It was the unfolding of a perfect bud in a perfect flower. Whatever age one accepts as the one in which the body reaches its natural perfection, the fact is that it lasts only a short time; then begins the decline. As the moon begins to lessen as soon as it reaches its fullness, so too the human body grows to its peak of development, and then begins its age. If thirty-three be taken as the age of full bodily growth and development, it would seem that Our Blessed Lord's ardent love for humanity waited until that age, when He had attained perfect growth and vigor, in order that He might offer His life in sacrifice at its very fullness. As the act of His Will was total and complete, so the human nature which He would sacrifice on the Cross would not be wanting in anything for its perfect oblation. Obedience to the law of nature produces physical maturity; obedience to the law of parents produces mental maturity; obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father produces spiritual maturity. Our Blessed Lord, therefore, as the Lamb of God, submitted Himself to the shepherding of His Mother so that He might be physically perfect and without stain for the great day of His sacrifice on which He would be offered without opening His mouth.
The flower that is planted in the right place to absorb out of the earth and atmosphere the nutritive forces that it needs will grow. It toils not, neither does it spin, and yet its invisible machinery captures the sunbeams and converts them into flowers and fruit for the welfare of man. So, children placed in the right environment grow in age, too. Place a water wheel in a stream, and it turns; place it in the rocks, and it does not move. So long as we are in the wrong place, we cannot grow. The secret of the growth of Our Lord is that He started in the right place; He was bathed with the warmth and the light and the refreshment of a home that was dedicated to God. One cannot put a bomb under a child and make it a man. Each thing has its own appointed law of growth, provided its roots are properly fixed. All growth is silent, and there is not a word out of the home of Nazareth in these eighteen long years between the Finding in the Temple and the Marriage Feast. Thus, when nature is baptized in the fullness of the powers of spring, there is hardly a rustle. The whole movement takes place secretly and silently, for the new world comes up like the sound of a trumpet. The greatest moral structures grow from day to day without noise; God's kingdoms come without observation. So Our Blessed Lord stayed in His place, did His carpentry, was obedient to His parents, accepted the restraints of His position, met His cares with a transcendent disdain, drank in the sunlight of His Father's* Faith , possessed His soul in perfect patience, although urged by deep sympathy and a throbbing desire to save man. There was no hurry, no impatience, no quick maturing of power, no marring of strength by haste. When Perseus told Pallas Athena that he was ready to go forth, young as he was, against the fabled monster Medusa, the strange lady smiled and said: "Not yet; you are too young, and too unskilled; for this is Medusa, the mother of a monstrous brood. Return to your home and do the work which awaits you there. You must play the man in that before I can think you worthy to go in search of Medusa." If it is hurry that enfeebles us, it is the silent obedience to God's law that serves to strengthen us.
* Either refers to Christ's foster father St. Joseph, or if to God the Father, then not in a literal sense, for God, knowing all things, does not have faith. [Ed.]