BY CARDINAL TIMOTHY M. DOLAN
Only you fans of “Catholic Jeopardy” would know this: Classically, in our Catholic calendar, each of the twelve months is dedicated to a title of Jesus, an event in His life, a name given Him, His mother, or His foster father. What about February? This month is devoted to “The Hidden Life of Jesus.”
This may take a bit of explaining! Jesus spent thirty-three years physically with us here on earth. Only three of those, from when He was 30-33 years of age, the last three years of His life, those we term His “public life,” are well-chronicled. True, we relish His birth and His first months, and recall when He was “Lost in the Temple” when twelve, but, let’s face it, we know very little about 90% of the span of His life, and that we call His “Hidden Life.”
On second thought, since nothing in God’s plan of salvation is without significance, we can only assume there is indeed a lesson here. What can the Lord teach us as we wonder about these quiet, unknown years?
For one, we can learn how the Lord savors silence. A little boy once asked Padre Pio, “What language does God speak?” The saintly priest smiled and replied, “God speaks the language of silence.”
“Be still, and know that I am God!” the Bible whispers. “In quiet confidence shall be your strength.”
We have no recorded words from Jesus, except a sentence when He was 12, until He began His public ministry eighteen years later. 90% of the Savior’s earthly span was spent in silence. Get the message?
Two, these “hidden years” speak volumes about the supreme value of family life, being raised in a loving home by a mom and dad. The Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. “God from God, light from light,” was subject to Joseph and Mary in their home at Nazareth. Get the message? Home life, family life, has immense significance in God’s plan.
Three, God’s revelation tutors us in the beauty of a religious home. Joseph and Mary were very faithful Jews. They taught Jesus His prayers; He learned the psalms by heart; they “catechized” Him in the truths, traditions, and moral expectations of Jewish belief; they went to the synagogue every sabbath; they kept the feasts.
Get the message? A mom recently informed the deacon at her parish, “We had to decide whether our son would go to basketball practice, or to religious classes. We chose the basketball.” Thank God that was not the case at Nazareth!
Four, the “hidden years” of our Lord demonstrate the merit of work in God’s eyes. Jesus was dismissed as “the Carpenter’s son” when He became famous. His earthly dad, Joseph, was a carpenter, and scholars of family life in Israel assure us that the son would labor hard in the father’s business. Our Savior, the “way, the truth, and the life,” was a working man! Get the message?
Five, and finally, these unknown days in the life of Jesus teach us the necessity of preparation. Jesus required a lot of time to get ready for His mission, His vocation: to save us! I’ve never met an athlete, a scholar, an artist, a musician, a teacher, or a professional who would not agree. Get the message?
So, maybe these years we recall during February were not that “hidden” after all!
Our Catholic Calendar
The Holy Name of Jesus
The Hidden Life of Jesus
Our Blessed Mother
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Precious Blood of Jesus
The Assumption of Our Lady
The Sorrowful Mother
The Faithful Departed