Part One is here.
Part Two is here.
Part Three is here.
by Father Daniel A. Lord, 1950’s
The Heart of His Mother
Christ understands. He read, we must remember, the story of all womankind in the life of His own mother. She was the perfect woman, and to her came whatever a woman can experience except original and personal sin.
Had He known her alone, He would still have known womankind. Because from the moment of conception Christ was in full possession of consciousness, because He combined the vision of God with the acquired experience of a man, He read the heart of His mother with perfect clearness.
In her story was, we may almost say, the story of womankind. Mary, on the threshold of womanhood, faced marriage hesitantly. The love of virginity was uppermost in her soul, and she prized that above all else. Yet in the mystery of the Incarnation the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity smiled approvingly and gave her the joy of motherhood with the preservation of her cherished virginity.
He was present at the almost overwhelming joy that flooded her soul when her fears, holy and maidenly, were swept aside and she knew that she carried in her womb the Child who was her son and the Son of God.
Christ alone of all mankind shared with a mother the secret, unspoken happiness of the months of waiting. He alone knew the eagerness, the dreads, the beautiful dreams with which mothers wrap round their unborn sons.
He experienced her anguish of soul when because of Him she bent silently before the questioning, hurt eyes of Joseph. I
n the thrilling moment when she held her first-born in her arms, He alone of all the sons of women had a conscious part.
For the rest of mankind the beautiful joys and consuming worries that surround the first years of childhood are a secret they never share. Jesus knew them, experienced them with His mother, felt their poignant reactions on her heart.
The poverty that forced her to use her veil for His baby clothes and a manger for His crib, that made her house a place of small economies and hard labor which roughened her hands and the hands of her growing boy, was His deliberate choice.
By her side He stood when Joseph died and the shadow of that death was flung over the little home. His heart was torn as hers was with the breaking of those ties that fastened Him to the house in Nazareth, for He foresaw more clearly than she possibly could the loneliness of the evenings when, after He had begun His public life, she must sit alone at the evening meal, face His empty chair, and know that He would never sit in it again.
When she stood at His torturing deathbed, He bore her sorrow added to His own pain; and in the midst of physical torture and mental agony He remembered her and cared for her.
His own rejection by His people was hard; far harder was the anguish He knew she felt when she realized that the world regarded her boy as a cheat and a failure.
No phase of woman’s life, then, was hidden from this Son, who learned all women’s joy and sorrow in the person of the one woman whose life was an epitome of every happiness and grief that women, since the world began, have ever experienced.
He Is Lonely Too
And if the heart of woman is so often lonely, surely the heart of Christ knew unspeakable loneliness too.
He walked the earth and no one except a woman, His mother, seemed to understand Him. His disciples never caught His plans, never dreamed His dreams, for up to the very moment of Pentecost, while He dreamed of a spiritual kingdom, they talked of thrones and armies and the restored kingdom of Israel. Surely nothing makes one so utterly lonely as the feeling that no one understands the things nearest to one’s heart.
Christ walked alone, talking of His hopes to people who laughed at them or misinterpreted them or turned them into new reasons for His death.
When He promised them the thing that was to prove His continued love for the world, the Blessed Sacrament, many used it as a pretext for leaving Him forever. And He followed their departure with hurt, disappointed eye.
The cry “Behold the heart that has loved men so much and has been loved so little in return,” that comes forth from the tabernacle, sounds very much like a cry of loneliness from the Eucharistic Christ.
With love squandered on everything and so little of it for Him, with throngs pouring down the city streets and lone worshipers before the altar, with the theaters crowded and the churches so often empty, it would be strange if the Christ upon our altars did not know loneliness.
Surely we sympathize most easily with the thing we ourselves know. Women are lonely? So was Christ. So, in a sense, is Christ. If lonely souls, when they find each other, cling together, surely women will cling to Christ. If the surest cure for loneliness is unselfishness to others, women have the cure for their own loneliness in devotion to the lonely Christ.
The Perfect Man
So, into the ancient world that had treated women so badly walked the lovely figure of the God-Man. He did not come as Adam came, in the full vigor of maturity, but as a baby born of a woman, the guise that must make the strongest appeal to a woman’s tenderness.
From the crib He stretches out His baby arms asking for affection and care. Can any woman be lonely when she takes a baby to her breast?
Then, as an attractive boy, He spent those early years in intimate association with a woman, sharing the burdens of her house-hold, helping her as a devoted son helps the mother he loves.
With Joseph dead, the task of providing for her became His own. His labor in the carpenter shop was what earned the food for her table, the linen for her bed, the clothes she wore.
Grown to full maturity, He walked the highways of His mission while this mother, first with pride, then with a sense of His doom, knew His greatness and His divinity.
She had experienced herself the gentleness and strength of His soul that made women follow Him devotedly, open the doors of their homes to welcome Him, stay near Him on the cross and before His tomb, faithful when all others had fled.
He, who had cared for her need, sought out the needy women of the towns. Because He was so pure, she saw sinful women for the first time in their sad history looking into the eyes of a man strong yet pitying, sinless yet infinitely forgiving.
There were lonely women’s hearts before Christ came. There need be no loneliness in the world’s most forgotten woman if she looks upon Jesus, loves Him, and asks for His sympathy and understanding.
The beautiful companionship which Jesus gave to His mother, to Martha and Mary, to the women saints of the Church, the understanding forgiveness that He showed to Magdalen and to the sinful women who turned to Him, the strength for their weakness and sympathy for their sorrows, the gentleness for their need that He gave to the women of that ancient world and to every woman who seeks Him in the Blessed Sacrament, He holds out to the women of today.
In Jesus Christ they find the ideal of their dreaming, the realization of their hopes, the man who fulfills their highest desires, the only one who never disappoints.
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