The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 77.

When our Lord Jesus Christ began preaching publicly, gathering disciples around Him, confirming His doctrine by striking and marvellous miracles, claiming authority, all who listened to Him knew where was situated His earthly home, and who were His kinsfolk. He came from Nazareth. He was known to be the Son of Mary, and consequently was reputed to be the Son of her husband, Joseph the carpenter. Our Lord indeed heard Himself addressed as the Son of David, and showed His approbation by a miracle; He spoke of Himself as the Son of Man, by this mode of speech suggesting that, whilst true Man, He was not as other sons of men. Before Caiaphas, at the end, referring to the vision of Daniel, He referred openly to the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven. But during the course of His Public Teaching the great truth that had to be gradually insinuated and driven home was that of His Divine Sonship. The corresponding truth of His Human Sonship needed, amongst the Jews, no emphasis. It was contradicted at the time by none.

Our Lord, therefore, necessarily laid stress upon the fact that, in His Public Ministry, and especially in the working of His Miracles, He depended in no way upon His earthly Mother, but solely upon His Heavenly Father.

This truth seems to have been emphasised on three occasions of which we read in the Gospels. Long before the Public Ministry had begun, our Lord, even as a Child, said to His earthly parents: " Why did you seek Me ? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's Business ?" He said to

His Mother at Cana: " Mine hour is not yet come," showing that whilst He would grant her request, still it belonged to Himself alone to determine its hour. Once again, when interrupted in His teaching by the news that His Mother and His brethren wished to speak to Him, He called attention to His relation with His Eternal Father: "They that do the Will of My Father in Heaven, they are to Me mother and brother and sister."

It is true that in each case our Lord showed deference to the real, though lower claim of His human Mother, immediately after He had called attention to the higher claim of His Heavenly Father. After the brief foreshadowing of His future Ministry the Eternal Son of God went down from the Temple to Nazareth and was ''subject" to Mary and Joseph; at Cana He acceded even by miracle to His Mother's prayer; after His words concerning His Heavenly Father it would seem that, having finished the discourse on which he was engaged, He joined His Mother. "Christ," observes St. John Chrysostom—calling attention to the fact—" went out of the house" (In Matt., xii. 47 ; xiii. I.) to His Blessed Mother. There is no doubt as to the deference rendered by our Lord to His earthly parents, but neither is there any doubt as to the lesson upon which He was careful to insist —that in His public ministry—in doing that work which, in the fulness of time, He had been sent into the world by His Father to accomplish—He must be independent of any earthly ties whatsoever, how ever dear, intimate, and sacred.

It was a lesson which Mary was quick to learn. Our Blessed Lady, in all things conforming herself to the Mind of her Son, ever rejoiced to be His lowly Handmaid; when it was His Father's Will that He should manifest His Power, she was well pleased to efface herself, as it were, and to stand on one side. We find His Mother by the side of Jesus as a Child, by the side of Jesus as a Youth, by the side of Jesus in the workshop, by the side of Jesus in His sufferings ; we do not find His Mother by the side of Jesus when He taught, already as One having authority, in the Temple, when, as the Lord of the powers of nature, He worked His great miracles of healing, giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, and speech to the dumb, when He enabled the lame to walk and raised the dead to life, or when He publicly confuted and confounded His enemies. It is true that Mary was with Jesus when He was adored by the Wise Men, and that she was present with her Child when Simeon gave utterance to the Nunc Dimittis. But neither the Shepherds, nor the Wise Men, nor Simeon, spread broadcast their own belief that Jesus was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to whom was due the myrrh, the frankincense and the gold— that it was He who should redeem His people. Our Lord was still in His Childhood, His manifestation was not yet made public. He had not yet begun to preach. Mary was not present at the Transfiguration on Mount Thabor, nor was the Queen of Heaven seen in the streets of Jerusalem on the Festival Day when a great multitude took branches of palm-trees and cried: " Hosanna ! Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord—the King of Israel." It is true that Mary appeared before the gaze of men on Mount Calvary, but here it was not so much the Godhead as the Manhood, not so much the divine strength which belonged to our Lord, as the human weakness which He had assumed, that was exhibited on the Cross. The Holy Mother of God was as visibly united to her Son in the Economy of His Suffering and humiliation upon this earth, which has passed like a dream, as we know her now to be united to Him in His Majesty in the Heavens which shall abide for ever. If it was fitting for Christ to endure and thus to enter into His Glory, so in her measure and degree was it with Mary. Of our Lady, as of us all, it is true that only he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

These considerations supply the key to much that otherwise might surprise us in that which we read of the relations of our Lord to His Blessed Mother during the period of His Public Ministry.