THE HIDDEN LIFE
“And the Child grew, and waxed strong, full of wisdom, and the grace of God was in Him.
1. A child’s life has seldom much to record. When a great man dies, and his biography is written, the first twenty years or more, sometimes it will extend to thirty and even forty years, is usually contained in a single chapter. That chapter will, more often than not, contain a few dates, a few utterly unimportant facts, with one or two traits of budding character more or less significant, and often enough somewhat forced in their interpretation. But this seems to be common among many of the greatest; the greater they have ultimately proved themselves, the more insignificant has their early life been. Witness such names as Ceasar, Napoleon, Wellington, Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, Aquinas, Suarez, Bourdaloue, St. Gregory the Great, St. Bernard, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Philip Neri, and almost all the saints who have also proved themselves great in the world’s eyes. It is not, then, wonderful that the life of the Greatest of all should have been so hidden, so apparently insignificant.
2. Yet this very insignificance and hiddenness is the light He casts upon humanity at this time. He was “the light of the world,” and from the moment of the Nativity that light never failed. “My father worketh until now,” He said on one occasion, “ and I also work”; and He never ceased to do the work which had been given to Him from the beginning. In the ages to come the Church was continually to grow among the obscure, and the condemned, and the poor; in the West and the East to-day we know where we must mainly look for the life and strength of Christianity, indeed the life and strength of all Christian peoples. It is not among the richest; it is not among the mendicants and the poorest; it is among the healthy working classes whose hands are always full…whose contentment leads to a certain generosity of nature, the best ground for the seed of all virtues, whether natural or supernatural. With these, then, does our Lord associate in His days of growth; among these He “waxed strong, full of wisdom!”
3. Thus this hidden life is a life of many consecrations. It is the consecration of honourable poverty; it is the consecration of honourable work. It is the consecration of the home and of family life, of the relations between husband and wife, and between parents and children; it is the consecration of that society which is founded upon the family as the unit. It is the consecration of religious life, of the life of seclusion, the life of prayer, the life of poverty, the life of work, all of which religious life includes, and sanctifies, and teaches by example. It is the consecration, lastly, of that period of life which is so precious, so interesting, so momentous, the time of childhood and adolescence. Our Lord’s love of children is well known; His love of those who will help children is well known; when He blessed them, when He protected them, when He set them up as models, when He said, “As often as you do it to the least of these you do it to me,” He casts many sidelights on His own early life, His needs, His helps, and the gratitude with which that help was requited.
Summary Meditation Points
- The Hidden Life is the life that makes for greatness, material and spiritual.
- But not on that account is it insignificant or wasted.
- The Hidden Life of Our Lord has consecrated many elements of modern civilization.
Art: Sagrada Familia a la fusteria [Holy Family at Carpentry], Jeroni Jacint Espinosa, 1660, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons. Mirror of Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J., www.stmaryscadoganstreet.co.uk, all rights reserved, used with permission.