|Theotokos icon by Katarzyny Kobyszewskiej|
The thought of God submitting Himself to earthly conditions has filled the Saints with awe. The sight of the Word Incarnate in the House of Nazareth, employed silently in manual labour, is an epitome of the Divine Condescension, such as to compel all reflecting Christians to wondering adoration. Our Lord came to set us a perfect example. From the age of twelve to that of thirty His example was an exhibition of submission —even of subjection—of work—of the Hidden Life. But after all has been said, the chief Mystery in the Humiliation of the Eternal Word is the central fact that He became Man. When we have once grasped this, everything else is seen to be of minor importance. If He shrouded His glory and took the form of Man, it is a secondary (though a very wonderful) consideration that He took the form of a slave. The condition of the imperial Caesar is as immeasurably beneath the Majesty of God, as is the condition of a helot—for in both cases the distance is infinite. Both the Caesar and the helot are creatures. The Lord Christ is the Creator. No earthly trappings can conceivably confer upon Him any adventitious dignity. In the case of His Mother the case is altogether different. Like the Caesar and the helot, she is a creature. But she is the Mother of God, and as such is throned in the Kingdom of her Son, high above all creation.
At first sight, therefore, we might certainly have anticipated that much state and dignity would have been allotted to God's great Mother during some portion, at least, of her life upon the earth. How different was the reality, as arranged by the Providence of God. We find Mary in her poor dwelling discharging such homely duties as sweeping the floor, washing the linen, cooking the food, going to and fro to the well with a pitcher on her head—as those who have visited the East have so often watched the women of the people at the present day, fetching water for the daily needs of their household—engaged in that kind of work which we, in face of the example set by Jesus, Mary and Joseph, venture to call menial. Mary's hands were doubtless reddened and hardened by toil, she was often weary and overworked; hers were the anxieties of a working man's wife. This is all that we know of our Lady's life at Nazareth. Surely it is enough. We see how mistaken were those first anticipations as to earthly glory being conferred on the Mother of Christ; thus early are we taught the great lesson that the Holy Mother of God must share in all things, so far as a creature might, the humiliations, the obscurity, the hardships, the poverty, the contempt that were heaped upon her Son. Where suffering was concerned, in no way could she stand apart from Him. With His Public Life it was very different. We shall find her at Cana where Jesus worked His first miracle. But she was present at no other miracle of Christ, nor during His discourses, nor at His Triumph on the first Palm Sunday. The reason for this, so far as we may hope to understand it, we shall consider later. For the moment we are concerned only with the fact.