This passage has been pulled from the second chapter of St. Josemaria's book, Christ is Passing By.
Whenever I preach beside the crib, I try to see Christ our Lord as a child wrapped in swaddling clothes lying on straw in a manger. Even though he is only a child, unable to speak, I see him as a master and a teacher. I need to look at him in this way, because I must learn from him. And to learn from him, you must try to know his life — reading the Gospel and meditating on the scenes of the new testament — in order to understand the divine meaning of his life on earth.
In our own life we must reproduce Christ's life. We need to come to know him by reading and meditating on Scripture, and by praying, as we are doing now in front of the crib. We must learn the lessons which Jesus teaches us, even when he is just a newly born child, from the very moment he opens his eyes on this blessed land of men.
The fact that Jesus grew up and lived just like us shows us that human existence and all the ordinary activity of men have a divine meaning. No matter how much we may have reflected on all this, we should always be surprised when we think of the thirty years of obscurity which made up the greater part of Jesus' life among men. He lived in obscurity, but, for us, that period is full of light. It illuminates our days and fills them with meaning, for we are ordinary Christians who lead an ordinary life, just like millions of other people all over the world.
That was the way Jesus lived for thirty years, as "the son of the carpenter." There followed three years of public life, spent among the crowds. People were surprised: "Who is this?" they asked. "Where has he learned these things?" For he was just like them: he had shared the life of ordinary people. He was "the carpenter, the son of Mary." And he was God; he was achieving the redemption of mankind and "drawing all things to himself."
As with other events in his life, we should never contemplate Jesus' hidden years without feeling moved. We should realize that they are in themselves a call to shake off our selfishness and easy-going ways. Our Lord knows our limitations, our individualism and our ambition. He knows it is difficult for us to forget ourselves and give ourselves to others. He knows very well what it feels like not to find love and to discover that those who say they follow him only do so in a half-hearted way. Just think of those striking scenes, described to us by the evangelists, in which we see the Apostles full of worldly ambitions and merely human plans. Yet Jesus has chosen them; he keeps them close to him and entrusts them with the mission he has received from his Father.
He has called us too and asks us, as he asked James and John: "Are you ready to drink the cup" — that cup which means giving yourself fully to the will of the Father — "which I am going to drink?" Possumus!: "Yes! We are ready!" Is the reply of John and James. Are you and I really ready to carry out, in everything, the will of our Father God? Have we given our Lord our whole heart, or are we attached to ourselves and our interests and comfort and self-love? Is there anything in our lives out of keeping with our Christianity, something which makes us unwilling to mend our ways? Today we are given a chance to set things straight.
But first of all, we must be convinced that Jesus is putting these questions to us personally. He is the one who asks them, not I. I wouldn't dare even put them to myself. I am praying aloud, and each of you, silently, is admitting to our Lord: "Lord, how useless I am, what a coward I have been! How many mistakes I've made, over and over again." And we can go further and say: "It's good, Lord, you have kept me up with your hand; for, left to myself, I am capable of the most disgraceful things. Don't let me go; keep on treating me as a little child. I want to be strong and brave and manly. But you must help me. I am a clumsy creature. Take me by the hand, Lord, and make sure your Mother is also by my side to guard me. And so, possumus! We can; we will be able to have you as our model."
It is not presumptuous for us to say possumus. Jesus Christ teaches us this divine way and wants us to follow it, for he has made it human and accessible to our weakness. That is why he lowered himself so. "Here is the reason why he brought himself so low, taking the nature of a slave; he, the Lord, who as God was equal to the Father; he lowered himself in majesty and power — but not in goodness or mercy."
The goodness of God wants to make the way easy for us. Let us not reject Jesus' invitation; let's not say "no" to him, turning a deaf ear to his voice. There is no excuse, we can no longer think we aren't able. He has shown us by his example. "Therefore, I ask you with all my heart, brothers, not to let this precious example go unheeded: rather, follow him and renew your soul in the spirit."
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