The World's First Love by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Part 27.

For the reparation of the pride of men, Our Blessed Lord humbled Himself in obedience to His parents: "And he was subject to them." It was God who was subject to man. God, Whom the principalities and powers obey, subjected Himself not only to Mary, but to Joseph, too, because of Mary. Our Blessed Lord Himself said that He came "not to be ministered unto, but to minister." Now He makes Himself the servant not only of His parents, but even of the community, for later on the townspeople will speak of Him as the Son of the carpenter. This humility, abstraction made from His Divinity, was exactly contrary to what one would expect of a man destined to become the reformer of the human race. And yet, what did this carpenter do during these thirty years of His obscurity? He made a coffin for the pagan world; He fashioned a yoke for the modern world; and He fashioned a Cross upon which He would be adored. He gave the supreme lesson of that virtue which is the foundation of all Christianity humility, submission, and a hidden life as a preparation for duty.

Our Lord spent three hours in redeeming, three years in teaching, and thirty years in obeying, in order that a rebellious, proud, and diabolically independent world might learn the value of obedience. Home life is the God-appointed training ground of human character, for from the home life of the child springs the maturity of manhood, either for good or for evil. The only recorded acts of Our Blessed Lord's childhood are acts of obedience to God, His Heavenly Father, and also to Mary and Joseph. He thus shows the special duty of childhood and of youth: to obey parents as the vice-regents of God. He, the great God Whom the Heavens and earth could not contain, submitted Himself to His parents. If He was sent on a message to a neighbor, it was the great Sender of the Apostles who delivered the message. If Joseph ever bade Him search for a tool that was lost, it was the Wisdom of God and the Shepherd in search of lost souls who was actually doing the seeking. If Joseph taught Him carpentry, He Who was taught was One Who had carpentered the universe, and Who would one day be put to death by the members of His own profession. If He made a yoke for the oxen of a neighbor, it was He Who would call Himself a yoke for men and yet a burden that would be light. If they bade Him work in a little plot of garden ground, to train the creepers or water the flowers, it was He, Who was the great Dresser of the vineyard of His Church, Who took in hand the waterpot and the gardening tools. All men may ponder well the hint of a child subject to His parents, that no Heavenly call is ever to be trusted which bids one neglect the obvious duties that lie near to hand.

There is an Oriental proverb which says: "The first deities which the child has to acknowledge are his parents." And another says that, "Obedient children are as ambrosia to the gods." The parent is to the child God's representative; and in order that parents may not have a responsibility that will be too heavy for them, God gives each child a soul, as so much clay which their hands can mould in the way of truth and love. Whenever a child is given to parents, a crown is made for it in Heaven; and woe to those parents if that child is not reared with a sense of responsibility to acquire that crown!

Although the words, "He was subject to them," apply especially to that period of Our Lord's life between the finding in the Temple and the Marriage Feast of Cana, nevertheless they are also a true description of His course in after years. His whole life was one of subjection and submission. He said that He had come to do His Father's Will, and now He was obeying it, for it was His Father's Will that He have Mary for a Mother and Joseph as a foster father. Later on, He submitted to receiving John's Baptism, although He had no need of it. He also submitted to paying the tax for the support of the Temple, although He, as the only begotten Son of the Father, was rightfully exempt from that tax. He bade the Jews submit themselves to the Romans who had conquered them, and to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. He bade His disciples observe and do all that the Scribes and Pharisees enjoined, because they sat in Moses' Chair and held a position of authority; finally, He became obedient under the sentence of death, drinking with the utmost meekness even to the dregs the cup of suffering which His Father had appointed to Him.

What adds particular emphasis to the fact of His obedience was that Our Blessed Lord was subject to parents so much His inferiors even as a creature is far below a Creator. One day the sun in the Heavens, in obedience to the voice of a Man, stopped in its course. So, obedient to the voice of Mary, the Light of the World submitted for thirty years - might almost say that it stopped in full midday to illumine, embrace, and enrich her for all eternity.