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of things lasted. Here was this wondrous Son, about Whom so much had been predicted, living on, a simple, quiet, retiring youth, unknown beyond His own village, and even there held in no esteem. True, His Mother gathered up His deep sayings and pondered them in her heart. But that this constant daily intercourse with her Divine Child was in itself no natural aid to faith we learn from this astounding fact recorded by the Holy Ghost, that even “ His brethren (1)

) "did not believe in Him,”—that bodily familiarity with His outward presence was no aid to the fostering of a faith in His Divine Person and Mission.

At last comes His Baptism. He is now definitely called and set apart by God to His special ministerial work. The Marriage Feast of Cana takes place, symbolical of our Lord henceforth leaving earthly father and mother, and cleaving to His Spouse, the Church. The Mother trusting to the natural relationship between herself and her Son, and remembering His unswerving

(1) The generally received opinion in the earliest ages of the Church with regard to these “Brethren of the Lord” was, that they were the sons of Joseph by a former wife, before he espoused the Blessed Virgin. See the authorities in Prof. Lightfoot's Commentary on the Ep. to the Galatians : Dissertation ii. “On tho Brethren of the Lord."

obedience and filial devotion in their cottage home, gently expresses her wish in matters outside the sphere of her own maternal rule and concern; and is at once met by the new and unlooked for rebuke, “Woman, what have I to "do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.” Words which seem to say, Old things are passed away. I cannot recognise thy authority in the affairs of the Kingdom. Here thy natural relationship gives thee no claim upon My regard, beyond that which is possessed by any other daughter of Eve. In the earthly home I obeyed thee as Son. In the new Home I am entering, thou must obey Me as thy God. If thou wouldst be “blessed” for ever, it will not be because thy womb bare Me, or thy paps gave Me suck, but because thou hast obeyed My voice. “My mother and My brethren are they who “ hear the Word of God and keep it.”

My friends, we can little conceive the keen trial to faith which all this weary waiting, in the first stages of our Lord's life, must have been to His Mother, nor the still sharper trial to her faith, her humility and meekness, which this second stage must have proved. After thirty years of patient tarrying for the Coming King

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dom, to find it, now at its inauguration, so mean in outward show; to find herself, moreover, not only with no recognised position in it, as Mother of the Founder, but even separated, as it would seem, by a new chasm from Him; to have the strange stern truth gradually unfolded to her (for this is the burden of our Lord's whole teaching concerning her) that the natural tie uniting herself to her Son carries with it no one single title to place, or precedence, or authority in His Kingdom, but that her position must depend solely on her own use of God's wondrous grace, her own inward correspondence with His goodness to her, and on the measure in which she has personally and experimentally “heard and kept” that Word which shall judge her at the last day.

But her greatest trial remains behind. The aged Symeon had told her that “a sword should “pierce through her own soul.” She had already quailed under its keen edge. She had already been pierced and probed by the sharp questionings of doubt, by the poignant pangs of hope deferred, and biting sorrow. She has now to feel that two-edged blade penetrating deeper, and cutting to the very quick her quivering soul and spirit. Her Son, according to the Angel, was to be honoured and worshipped, to occupy David's Royal Throne, to reign for ever. But, (oh! terrible mystery) instead of this, in the very prime of life, she has to see Him doomed to death. Yea, she has to behold Him “despised “and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows and " acquainted with grief;" to see Him laughed to scorn, betrayed, forsaken, scourged, lacerated with thorns, nailed to the bloody Cross, a companion of thieves, hanging between heaven and earth, accursed of God and man. Oh, who can read those simple words, “Now there stood by the “ Cross of Jesus His Mother,” without feeling the terrible nature of the conflict she was being called upon to undergo, the awful sternness of that discipline whereby divine love would try and perfect her.

But Holy Scripture tells us nothing about her inward feelings and experiences, it hangs a deep veil over all ; it reveals not to us the effect of this burning furnace on her soul, and of her emergence therefrom like "gold purified seven "times in the fire;” or yet the unutterable glories which her afflictions have wrought out for herhow God proved her, and found her worthy of Himself.

Let us only strive to imitate her faith, her lowliness and meekness, meekness which trustfully receives from God's hands the most transcendent favours and the deepest sufferings and humiliations, and we, too, shall like her be exalted by Him Who hath said, “My mother “and My brother are they which hear the word " of God and keep it."

Fain would I here leave her, awaiting in bliss, with all saints the glorious day of her espousals and coronation, when, not on the ground of her exalted natural dignity as Mother of Incarnate God, but on the simple ground of her faithful use of grace given; not, as S. Augustine says, for conceiving Christ in her womb, but for conceiving Him in her heart, she will take her place as the first of all saints, the most sorely tried, the most humble and meek, therefore the most abundantly rewarded and highly exalted. Fain would I here leave her, nor sully her gentle name by associating it with anything sinful. But I cannot, I dare not, quite dismiss the subject, without adding one word to express the sorrow and pain which we, as Christians and Catholics, ought to feel at the thought that her holy memory has been and is abused by the Devil as a

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