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Honored by Strangers, Rejected by His Own

But I am not worthy of thy clemency, since my eyes find no traces of Thee. Thus this sincerest Dove persevered in her tears and groans without cessation or rest, without sleeping or eating anything for three whole days. Although the ten thousand angels accompanied Her in corporeal forms and witnessed her affliction and sorrow, yet they gave Her no clue to find her lost Child. On the third day the great Queen resolved to seek Him in the desert where saint John was; for since She saw no indications that Archelaus had taken Him prisoner, She began to believe more firmly, that her most holy Son was with saint John.

When She was about to execute her resolve and was on the point of departing for the desert, the holy angels detained Her, urging Her not to undertake the journey, since the divine Word was not there. She wanted also to go to Bethlehem, in the hope of finding Him in the cave of the Nativity; but this the holy angels likewise prevented, telling Her that He was not so far off. Although the blessed Mother heard these answers and well perceived that the holy angels knew the whereabouts of the Child Jesus, She was so considerate and reserved in her humility and prudence, that She gave no response, nor asked where She could find Him; for She understood that they withheld this information by command of the Lord.

With such magnanimous reverence did the Queen of the angels treat the sacraments of the Most High and of his ministers and ambassadors II Mach. This was one of the occasions in which the greatness of her queenly and magnanimous heart was made manifest. Not all the sorrows suffered by all the martyrs ever reached the height of the sorrows of most holy Mary in this trial; nor will the patience, resignation and tolerance of this Lady ever be equaled, nor can they; for the loss of Jesus was greater to Her than the loss of anything created, while her love and appreciation of Him exceeded all that can be conceived by any other creature.

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Since She did not know the cause of the loss, her anxiety was beyond all measure, as I have already said. Moreover, during these three days the Lord left Her to her natural resources of nature and of grace, deprived of special privileges and favors; for, with the exception of the company and intercourse of the angels, He suspended all the other consolations and blessings so constantly vouchsafed to her most holy soul.

From all this we can surmise what sorrow filled the loving heart of the heavenly Mother.

Jesus Again in Galilee: at Cana and Nazareth

But, 0 prodigy of holiness, prudence, fortitude and perfection! The Mistress of all virtue held all her powers in heavenly order and harmony; though her sorrow was without comparison great and had pierced her inmost heart, She failed not in reverence and in the praise of the Lord, nor ceased in her prayers and petitions for the human race, and for the finding of her most holy Son.

With this heavenly wisdom and with greatest diligence She sought Him for three successive days, roaming through the streets of the city, asking different persons and describing to the daughters of Jerusalem the marks of her Beloved, searching the byways and the open squares of the city and thereby fulfilling what was recorded in the Canticles of Solomon Cant. And when I gave Him alms, I felt myself overcome by compassion to see a Child so gracious in poverty and want.

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A little respited in her sorrow, She pursued her quest and met other persons, who spoke of Him in like manner, Guided by this information She directed her steps to the hospital of the city, thinking that among the afflicted She would find the Spouse and the Originator of patient poverty among his own legitimate brethren and friends Matth.

Inquiring at that place, She was informed that a Child of that description had paid his visits to the inmates, leaving some alms and speaking words of much consolation to the afflicted. The report of these doings of her Beloved caused sentiments of sweetest and most tender affection in the heart of the heavenly Lady, which She sent forth from her inmost heart as messengers to her lost and absent Son. Then the thought struck Her, that, since He was not with the poor, He no doubt tarried in the temple, as in the house of God and of prayer. By another angel he had now been likewise ordered to proceed to the temple.

During all these three days he had suffered unspeakable sorrow and affliction, hastening from one place to another, sometimes without his heavenly Spouse, sometimes with Her. He was in serious danger of losing his life during this time, if the hand of the Lord had not strengthened him and if the most prudent Lady had not consoled him and forced him to take some food and rest.

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His sincere and exquisite love for the divine Child made him so anxious and solicitous to find Him, that he would have allowed himself no time or care to take nourishment for the support of nature. Following the advice of the holy princes, the most pure Mary and Joseph betook themselves to the temple, where happened what I will relate in the next chapter.

My daughter, by oft repeated experience mortals know, that they do not lose without sorrow what once they have possessed with delight. This truth, so well established, should convince men what little love they have for their God and Creator; since among the many who lose Him, there are so few who heartily grieve at this loss, and thereby show, that they have never possessed or loved Him with a love flowing from grace.

Just as they fail to grieve at losing the highest Good, which they do not hold in loving possession, so they also fail to seek after their God when they have lost Him. But there is a great difference in the manner in which men lose sight of their highest Good; for it is not the same to lose sight of God for the purpose of being tried in virtue and love and to lose sight of Him in punishment for sins committed. The first is a contrivance of divine love and a means of communicating itself more abundantly to the one that longs for it and merits it.

The second is a just punishment for outrages committed against the Divinity. In the first kind of absence the Lord humiliates the soul by holy fear and filial love leaving it uncertain, whether it has not given cause for his withdrawal Prov. Although its conscience does not reprehend it, the loving and ingenuous heart knows its danger, feels the loss and thus, as the wise man says, is blessed Eccli.

During their mortal existence the just man and the sinner commonly share the same good and evil lot without much distinction. This is the great evil which the wise man mentions as among the happenings under the sun; that the impious and the wicked harden their hearts in their malice and false security, seeing that the same mishaps befall both themselves and others, and that no one can tell with certainty who are the chosen or the reprobate, the friends or enemies, of God, the just or the sinners; who are worthy of love and who of hatred.

But if men would dispassionately and without deceit appeal to their conscience, it would answer each one truthfully what he should know Luke 12, 58 ; for when it cries out against sins committed, they would be foolish not to attribute the evils and adversities to themselves, or to fail to see themselves forsaken by grace and deprived of the highest Good. If their reason were unbiased, the greatest source of misgiving would be, to be unmoved by the loss or by the cessation of the spiritual joys of grace.

For the want of this misgiving in a soul created and destined for eternal happiness is a strong indication that the soul neither desires nor loves this happiness, and therefore it is a sign, that it does not seek it in earnest, so as to enjoy a well founded prospect of once possessing the highest Good.

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For thou must remember, that this well founded assurance, of not having forfeited it in this mortal life, can be attained by all faithful souls. I was deprived of the bodily presence of my most holy Son; but, although I was in hope of again finding Him, yet, in my great love, the uncertainty as to the cause of his withdrawal gave me no rest until I found Him. In this I wish that thou, my dearest, imitate me, whether thou lose Him through thy own fault or by the disposition of his own will.

So great should be thy dread of losing Him through thy fault, that neither tribulation, nor trouble, nor necessity, nor danger, nor persecution, nor the sword, neither height nor depth should ever withhold thee from seeking after thy God Rom. So strong are the bonds of his love and its chains, that no one can burst them, except thy own free will. In the foregoing chapter a partial answer might be found to the question raised by some, as to how the heavenly Queen, who was so diligent and solicitous in attending upon and serving her most holy Son, could ever so far lose Him out of sight as to leave Him in Jerusalem.

Although it would be a sufficient answer to say that the Lord himself brought it about, yet I will now explain more fully how it could have happened without any voluntary negligence or oversight of the loving Mother. It is certain, that besides availing Himself of the great concourse of people, our Lord was obliged to use also supernatural means to elude the attention of his solicitous Mother; for without it She could no more have lost sight of Him than of the sun, that lighted Her on the way.

Therefore, at the parting of the men and the women which I mentioned, the almighty Lord visited his heavenly Mother with an abstractive vision of the Divinity, which with divine power centered and withdrew all her faculties toward her interior. She thus remained so abstracted, inflamed and deprived of her senses, that She could make use of them only in so far as was necessary to pursue her way.

As to all the rest, She was entirely lost in the sweetness and consolation of the divine vision. Saint Joseph was guided in his behavior by the circumstances already mentioned; although he also was wrapped in a most exalted contemplation, which made more easy and mysterious his error in regard to the whereabouts of the Child.

Thus Jesus withdrew Himself from both of them, remaining in Jerusalem. When after a considerable while the Queen came to Herself and found Herself without the company of her most holy Son, She supposed Him to be with his reputed father. It was very near to the gate of the city, that the divine Child turned and hastened back through the streets. Foreseeing in his divine foreknowledge all that was to happen, He offered it up to his eternal Father for the benefit of souls. He asked for alms during these three days in order to ennoble from that time on humble mendicity as the firstborn of holy poverty.

He visited the hospitals of the poor, consoling them and giving them the alms which He had received; secretly He restored bodily health to some and spiritual health to many, by enlightening them interiorly and leading them back to the way of salvation. On some of the benefactors, who gave Him alms, He performed these wonders with a greater abundance of grace and light; thus fulfilling from that time on the promise, which He was afterwards to make to his Church; that he who gives to the just and to the prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive the reward of the just Matth.

Having thus busied Himself with these and other works of his Father, He betook Himself to the temple. On the day which the Evangelist mentions it happened that also the rabbis, who were the learned and the teachers of the temple, met in a certain part of the buildings in order to confer among themselves concerning some doubtful points of holy Scriptures.

On this occasion the coming of the Messias was discussed; for on account of the report of the wonderful events, which had spread about since the birth of the Baptist and the visit of the Kings of the east, the rumor of the coming of the Redeemer and of his being already in the world, though yet unknown, had gained ground among the Jews. They were all seated in their places filled with the sense of authority customary to those who are teachers and considered as learned.

The Child Jesus came to the meeting of these distinguished men; and He that was the King of kings, and Lord of lords Apoc. The opinions of the scribes were much at variance on this question, some of them answering in the affirmative, others in the negative. Those in the negative quoted some testimonies of holy Scriptures and prophecies with the coarse interpretation reprehended by the Apostle: namely, killing the spirit by the letter II Cor.

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They maintained that the Messias was to come with kingly magnificence and display in order to secure the liberty of his people by the exercise of great power, rescuing them in a temporal manner from the slavery of the gentiles; yet, that there were no indications of this power and freedom in the present state of the Hebrews and no possibility of throwing off the yoke of the Romans.

This outward circumstance was an argument of great force among this carnal and blinded people; for they presumed, that the coming greatness and majesty of the promised Messias and the Redemption was intended for themselves only; and they believed this Redemption to be temporal and earthly, just as even now the Jews, in the obscurity which envelops their hearts Is. For to the present day they have not yet come to realize, that the glory, the majesty, and the power of the Redeemer, and the liberty which He is to bring to the world, is not of an earthly, temporal and perishable kind, but heavenly, spiritual and eternal; and that it is not intended alone for the Jews, although offered to them before all other nations, but indiscriminately for the whole human race descended from Adam I Cor.

The teacher of truth, Jesus, foresaw that the discussion would end with the confirmation of this error; for although some of the learned men inclined to the contrary opinion, they were but few; and they had now been silenced by the authority and specious arguments of the others. As the Lord had come into the world in order to give testimony of the truth John 18, 37 , which was He Himself, He would not on this occasion, when it was so important to manifest the truth, allow that the deceit and error opposed to it should be confirmed and established by the authority of the learned.

His measureless charity could not pass by unnoticed this ignorance of his works and high purposes in these men, who were set as teachers of the people in matters concerning eternal life and its Author, our Redeemer. Therefore the divine Child presented Himself to the disputants, manifesting the grace poured out over his lips Ps. He stepped into their midst with exceeding majesty and grace, as one who would propose some doubt or solution.

By his pleasing appearance He awakened in the hearts of these learned men a desire to hear Him attentively. In order to propose my difficulty in regard to its solution, I presuppose what the Prophets say, that his coming shall be in great power and majesty, which has also been confirmed by the testimonies brought forward. All the Prophets and Scriptures are full of similar promises, manifesting his characteristics clearly and decisively enough for all those that study them with enlightened attention.

But the doubt arises from the comparison of these with other passages in the Prophets, since all of them must be equally true, though on account of their brevity they may appear to contradict each other. Therefore they must agree with each other in another sense, which can and must be found equally applicable in all the passages.

click How then shall we understand what this same Isaias says of Him, that He shall come from the land of the living, and when He asks: who shall declare his generation? Jeremias states that the enemies of the Messias shall join hands to persecute Him and mix poison with his bread, and they shall wipe out his name from the earth, although they shall not prevail in their attempt Jer. David says that He shall be the reproach of the people and of men, and shall be trodden under foot and shall be despised as a worm Ps.

All the Prophets say the same concerning the signs of the promised Messias. We cannot fail to see that He is to come twice; once to redeem the world and a second time to judge it; the prophecies must be applied to both these comings, giving to each one its right explanation.