Jesus of Nazareth, by Mother Mary Loyola

Prefatory Note

The pressure of an earnest invitation sent me from America must be my excuse for venturing to add another Life of Christ for the Young to the excellent ones already existing.

The aim proposed is to strengthen faith in our Lord’s Divinity, and to draw the hearts of children to Him by a personal love. To do this within the limits assigned, it has seemed better to omit a certain amount of matter rather than sacrifice detailed descriptions of leading facts, which by impressing the imagination leave a vivid picture in the mind.

Where different views, as to chronology, etc., prevail, I have adopted the one supported by the greater number of Catholic authors. To the following books of reference in particular I desire to acknowledge my indebtedness:

La Sainte Bible, by M. l’Abbé L. C. Pillion.
The Christ the Son of God, by the Abbé Fouard.
Jesus Christ, by Père Didon, O.P.
Life of Jesus Christ, by Father Maas, S.J.
Life of Our Life, by Father Coleridge, S.J.
The Passion, by Père Ollivier, O.P.
Dictionaire de la S. Bible, by the Abbé F. Vigouroui
Cambridge Companion to the Bible.
Helps to the Study of the Bible.
Saint Luke, by the Right Reverend Monsignor Ward.
Jesus the Messiah, by Dr. Edersheim.
Sketches of Jewish Social Life, by Dr. Edersheim.
The Resurrection of Christ, by G. W. B. Marsh, B. A.
Holy Gospel According to Saint John, by the Very Reverend J. MacIntyre.

Should this little book help even a few children of the great Catholic Church of America, so free, vigorous, and expanding, to withstand the infidelity of the day, and lead them to a tender, personal love of Jesus Christ, it will have happily attained its end.

– Mother Mary Loyola


We all realize that the children form the most precious portion of the flock committed to our care. The little ones were very dear to the heart of our Blessed Lord: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14) Hence we are all willing with Saint Paul “to spend ourselves, and be spent” in a special manner for the sake of the dear children. In their turn the children are destined to he the people; and we know that impressions are the more abiding when made in the time of youth: “A young man according to his way, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). Whoever contributes toward implanting the seeds of piety and virtue in the minds of children, has a special claim to the promise of the Holy Ghost: “They that instruct many to justice, shall shine as stars for all eternity.” (Daniel 12:3) The most efficient way of forming the youthful heart to virtue and piety is to cause the love of God to predominate over the fear of God: “Be ye followers of God, as most dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness.” (Ephesians 5:1) Again the Beloved Disciple tells us: “Every one that loveth is born of God, end knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is charity. Fear is not in charity; but perfect charity casteth out fear, because fear hath pain. And he that feareth is not perfected in charity. Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us.” (I John 4)

The beautiful life-story of Our Blessed Lord, when well told, is a most powerful means of inflaming the hearts of youth with love for God. This love, in turn, will help the children to keep God’s commandments: “And this is charity, that we walk according to His commandments.” (II John 1:6)

My heart was delighted on reading the proof-sheets of “Jesus of Nazareth: The Story of His Life, Written for Children,” by Mother Mary Loyola. The book is eminently practical, simple, unctuous, and interesting. It will make a powerful impression on the minds of the children. In fact no one can read it without loving God more, and therefore becoming better. The Author evidently realizes the wants of the child-mind, and, at the same time, comforts every soul in its longing for something higher and better.

This gifted Religious has contributed much toward the salvation of souls in the many beautiful and useful works that she has written. These books are silently, yet surely, doing their work in the family circle, in the schools, and in the work shops. The remarkable success of the Author of three works is evidently to be attributed to her genuine piety, her life of prayer and union with God, and her knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures and the Fathers. The learned Father Thurston, S.J., carefully supervises her works. Her attractive suggestions, and her enlightening doctrines are put so simply, and applied so well, that a person would almost wonder why he did not think of expressing his thoughts in that way himself.

Parents, teachers and instructors will find Mother Loyola’s works very useful in the difficult task of forming the minds of children to a life of virtue. We would be glad to see a copy of “Jesus of Nazareth, Written for Children,” in every household in the land. We wish it God-speed in going out on its great mission.

– Cardinal James Gibbons
Archdiocese of Baltimore, Maryland
25 March 1906

“Who Art Thou, Lord?”

Nineteen hundred years ago there came into this world a Man whose Life of thirty-three years is the chief event in the world’s history, and – whether we think of it or not – the chief event in the history here and hereafter of every one of us.

He was promised four thousand years before He came. The race, the tribe, the family, the time of His coming, the chief events of His Life were known. So that in the reign of the Roman Emperor, Augustus Caesar, when the time foretold by the prophets had come, there was a widespread expectation of a great Deliverer, and many eyes were turned to the little country of Palestine where He was to appear. And there, in Bethlehem, in a stable, on a winter’s night, He came. Angels sang in the heavens and sent shepherds to His crib. A star shining out in the eastern sky brought wise men to His feet Then the marvels around Him ceased, and whilst men were still expecting, and wondering why the promised One delayed so long, He was growing up from youth to manhood, and working at a carpenter’s trade in the despised village of Nazareth.

At the age of thirty He left His cottage home and began to show Himself to men. The majesty and grace of His Person, His winning ways, the power and the sweetness of His words, and His marvelous works soon carried His fame far beyond the limits of His own land. His feet trod the stormy waves. His voice stilled the tempests, cast out devils, and brought peace to the souls of men. The touch of His hand gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, life to the dead.

Multitudes followed wherever He went, through the crowded streets, up the hillsides, into the desert. When He preached on the seashore, the people so thronged Him that He had to step into a boat and push off from the land, His eager hearers pressing down to the water’s edge to catch His every word. No man had ever spoken like this Man. His words not only fell upon their ears, but sank into their souls, stirring them to higher thoughts and desires, to a sorrow for their sins which brought them peace, to a love of Him which drew them near to God. Wounds of body and of soul too sore for other handling His light touch healed. The poor, the ignorant, those of whom the world makes little account, went after Him in thousands, heedless of food and shelter, of everything – save the Face and the Voice of Jesus of Nazareth.

Multitudes flocked after Him. But there was no multitude to Him. Each soul stood out before Him clear and distinct, with its needs, its troubles, its sins, its desires for better things. The little child, the widow, the eager youth, the trembling sinner, felt that He read them through and through, understood them, loved them, cared for their love, wanted to help them, to make them happy – and could do it.

Gradually there gathered round Him a band of disciples. From among these He chose twelve men to be His intimate companions and friends. He kept them constantly with Him, He carefully taught and trained them, He let them into His secrets, He shared with them His miraculous powers, so that like Him they cast out devils, and cured the sick. He called them Apostles, that is, messengers sent, because they were to take His place and carry on His work when He should leave the earth. They were fishermen, most of them, rough and ignorant, but with simple, devoted hearts. Fattier, mother, home, everything they had in this world, they left for their Master’s sake, ready to follow Him everywhere, even to prison and to death.

For not all men revered Him for His holiness and wonderful works, and loved Him for His goodness. He bad fierce enemies, men who were jealous of Him and hated Him for His teaching, His warnings, His miracles. During three years they slandered and persecuted Him. And at last they laid hands on Him, scourged Him as a slave, crowned Him with thorns as a mock king, nailed Him to a cross between thieves, and watched Him die in lingering agony. He was buried. His grave was sealed, and guards were set to watch.

Then His enemies thought the world was rid of Him, and that they would hear His Name no more. But three days after His Crucifixion He rose from the tomb as He had foretold, and showed Himself to His friends. For forty days He went in and out among them, eating with them, letting them touch His wounded hands and feet, giving them His last instructions. On the fortieth day after His Resurrection, He led His disciples to the top of Mount Olivet, and having blessed them, slowly rose above their heads into the heavens till a cloud received Him out of their sight. As they remained looking up into the sky, two Angels in white garments stood by them and said: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to Heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into Heaven shall so come as you have seen Him going into Heaven.”

“This Jesus.” Who was this wonderful Man? Was He a true Man, and if so, was He more than Man? Pilate, the Roman Governor who condemned Him to death, was so struck by His calm majesty, His silence, and His patience in the midst of cruel injustice and pain, that he asked Him: “Whence art Thou?” He wanted to know if He was a mere man, or if there was any truth in the belief of many, that He was more than Man, that He was the Son of God.

Pilate’s Prisoner made him no answer, because none was needed. He had been three and thirty years in the world, and the question: “Whence art Thou?” bad been answered so plainly by the wonderful works He had done, that those only who were willfully blind could help knowing who He was and whence He came.

About five years after the Ascension of Christ into Heaven, a young man was hastening to Damascus to seize and punish all he could find, men and women who believed in Jesus of Nazareth. Suddenly, a light from Heaven shone round about him, and, falling on die ground, he heard a Voice saying to him: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” And he said: “Who art Thou, Lord?” And the Voice made answer: “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.”

That question and its answer changed the persecutor Saul into the great Saint Paul. He came to know and love our Blessed Lord so well, that neither tribulation, nor danger, nor the sword, nor death, nor any creature, he said, could separate him from Him.

Now the question of Pilate and of Saul was of immense importance, not to themselves alone, but to every one of us. A more important question has never been asked; for, to know the truth about Jesus Christ, and to guide our lives by what we know, Is the end for which we were sent into this world.

We did not see what the people of His own land saw every day; but we have the story of His Life written by those who knew Him intimately, and it ought to be familiar to us all. Every man and woman, every boy and girl should know it well. It is of more importance to us by far than anything else we have to learn. It was written, not for mankind in general, but for each of us, one by one, that we might study it and copy its lessons into our own lives.

These are days in which our belief in Jesus Christ must be firmly rooted if it is to be unshaken by the unbelief and indifference around us. We should try, then, to bring home to ourselves in every possible way the truth about Him – Who He is; what He came into this world to do; what we must do that He may not have come for us in vain. Let us ask, then, humbly and earnestly with Saint Paul:

“Who art Thou, Lord?”

On Trial

To find the answer to this question, we must go back a long way – before that time, nearly six thousand years ago, when human history began – right back to the Eternal Years.

From all eternity God had lived alone; alone, but not lonely; One God in Three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. No sound broke the stillness of His Life; no events came, and went, and brought a change. He was infinitely happy; for in Himself He had all things. If there was to be life, beauty, joy, outside of Him, from Him it must come.

And God willed these things should be. He would not keep always to Himself the happiness He could share with others, but would pour it out upon creatures able to know and love and enjoy Him.

He created the Angels, noble and beautiful spirits, not made to be united to bodies.

He created man, a being in some respects more wonderful than the Angela, because of the union of an Immortal spirit with a body formed of the dust of the earth. And because God saw it was not good for man to be alone,’ He gave him a companion worthy of him, We are now so spoilt by sin that we can form no idea of those beautiful creatures of God in their state of innocence. We have never seen anything so noble and so lovely as Adam and Eve; and what was hidden within was nobler and lovelier still. There was no darkness, nor ignorance, nor weakness. They understood the laws by which this world is governed, the secrets of Nature which men are puzzling out now bit by bit. They had no evil passions, no liking for what is wrong. Their hearts were pure and loving; their wills were strong and right.

They were perfect, then, in their human nature; but God was not yet satisfied. He loved them so much that He enriched them with a gift altogether above their nature, with a supernatural gift called sanctifying grace, which made their souls beautiful in another and far higher way, and gave them a right to see Him face to face one day. They were to pass from a fair home on earth to the one prepared for them in Heaven, not by sickness and through the gate of death, but gently and painlessly as a child is carried in its father’s arms from one room to another.

Meantime He placed them in “the paradise of pleasure,” a garden stored with everything that could serve them for use or enjoyment No plants or flowers, no birds or beasts that we have ever seen can compare with those of that garden of theirs. The animals great and small reverenced and obeyed them, came at their call, gambolled about them, ate from their hand. All was in order there. The irrational creatures were subject to Adam and Eve, and they themselves were subject with joy and gratitude to the God who bad given them all.

Here, then, in “the paradise of pleasure,” the father and mother of us all were placed on trial.

Yes, on trial. For it was the Will of God that both Angels and men should have the happiness which was prepared for them increased by meriting or deserving it. Therefore He gave them free will, or the power to choose good or evil. He loves a cheerful, loving service, and He determined that by an act of obedience His reasonable creatures should win their everlasting reward. What the trial of the Angels was we do not know. All we know is that one-third of them were unfaithful to God, and, with full knowledge of the wickedness of their act, rebelled against Him and were lost forever.

Like Adam and Eve, the Angels were created in a state of sanctifying grace. They were very dear and precious in the sight of God. But sin is so hateful to Him, that for that one deliberate act of rebellion against Him He took from them that priceless gift of grace, and drove them from the brightness of His Presence into everlasting darkness.

But He did not take from them their natural gifts, their clear intellect, their strong will. And these they now determined to use against Him by leading into their own rebellion those favoured children of His in Paradise. Thus it was more hatred of God than envy of these heirs of Heaven that led Satan to plan the destruction of Adam and Eve. It would never do to tempt them openly, for sin had made him so ugly that they would have been frightened of him. So he disguised himself, and fitly took the form of a serpent.

See Eve in her beauty and innocence walking alone through the garden. She is supremely happy. She is the dear child of God; she has all she can desire. Suddenly she comes upon the serpent coiled round the foot of a tree, “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” It is a mysterious name and reminds the owners of this fair garden that God who has given it to them is Master stilt For He has said:

“Of every tree of Paradise thou shalt eat. But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat For in what day soever thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death.”

A simple command, but a very solemn one. Disobedience to it would make them lose the grace and favour of God, and deserve His most dreadful punishments in this world and in the next. They know, then, all that depends on that tree, and never pass it without a feeling of awe.

Eve is surprised to see the serpent there and stops to look at him. The serpent begins to talk and she listens:

“Why do you not eat of the fruit of this tree?” he asks.

Notice how he begins his first temptation as he has begun so many since, by trying to make God appear bard.

A little Spanish girl who heard this story for the first time said: “Eve should not have listened; she should have made the sign of the Cross and gone down another walk.” But Eve did listen. She looked up shyly and wistfully at the tree and said:

“God bath commanded us that we should not eat, lest perhaps we die.”

“Die!” answered the tempter, “no, you shall not die.”

And then be makes a show of trusting her with a secret. There is always something fascinating about a secret. Eve is curious and draws nearer.

“God doth know,” he goes on, “that in what day soever you shall eat thereof your eyes shall be opened and you shall be as Gods.”

This was what enticed her. It was not gluttony, but curiosity and ambition that were her ruin. To see what would happen; to be as Gods, this was what she wanted; as to the punishment she would risk it. She stretched out her hand, plucked the fruit, and ate it. Oh, what a change came over her in that moment! When Adam saw her a minute later, the blush of guilt was on her face, her peace and happiness were gone.

She told him what she bad done, and at first he was shocked and terrified. At first – and then came his temptation, but in a different form from hers. She was his tempter. She used her influence with him, and his love for her to make him fall. She tempted him even with the appearance of good. “God has given us to each other; we have been so happy together; we must go together now. We must perish – if it is a case of perishing – together.”

And she gave him the fruit, and he ate it In that instant Adam fell from grace and the whole human race fell with him. Had he remained faithful, we should all have come into the world with souls beautiful and pleasing in the sight of God. We should have had our trial, but had we fallen no one would have been ruined but ourselves. Had Eve alone fallen, her sin would not have harmed us. It is because Adam is the father and the origin or head of the race that his fall has hurt us, that we are all born into this world without grace, in disgrace until by Baptism this original sin is taken away.

This is soon said, but it would need Adam and Eve themselves to tell us what it means, to make us understand how miserably unhappy they were after their sin. God used to come and walk with them in Paradise in the cool afternoon air, and they rushed forward to meet Him. Now they trembled when they heard His voice calling them. When people agree together to do wrong, they turn upon one another when the wrong is found out and they are called to account Adam laid the blame upon Eve, Eve upon the serpent. Then came God’s terrible words of punishment:

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth out of which thou was taken: for dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.”

Innocence, happiness, freedom from pain and death, the possession of the paradise of pleasure – all lost and lost forever: suffering and death, and all the evils of this life let in upon the earth through them; the gates of Heaven closed, and those of Hell opened by their bands – this was what came of that one sin. For the punishment they deserved was not only the death of the body but the everlasting death of the soul. They bad shared the rebellion of the bad angels; it was just they should share their condemnation.

But God had pity on them and on us. Their sin, though great and inexcusable, was less than that of the angels. They had indeed risen up in rebellion against the Infinite God, yet not with such clear knowledge; and they bad been tempted. Moreover, each of the fallen angels had himself done the evil for which be was justly punished. But Adam’s unhappy children had lost all by an act that was not their own.

Perhaps it was for these reasons that God determined to save the race of man. He could have done this by granting a free pardon to us. But to show the hatefulness of sin, and still more His exceeding love for us, He willed that we should be redeemed; that is, bought back; and that our Redeemer should be no other than His own Eternal Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, equal to the Father in all things. It was decreed by the Three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that a full and perfect satisfaction or compensation for the evil done should be offered to God. Now, for this two things were necessary. He who was to make the satisfaction must be equal to God, or it would not be infinite and enough; and He must be man, too, because man who had sinned must satisfy for sin.

No Angel, however high, nor all Angels and men together, could make this sufficient atonement. God himself must do it if it was to he done. And God was ready. Not counting the cost, thinking only of our misery and of His own love, the Second Person offered Himself to satisfy fully for our sins – for the first or original sin, which was not our own act, but his who was the origin and father of us all, and for those sins, too, which are our own free act.

All this load of sin which men have heaped up from the beginning against the Majesty of God, which we have each of us helped to increase, the Son of God took upon Himself, to suffer for in our stead, and thus re-open for us the gates of Heaven, which otherwise would have been closed against us forever. In place of Adam who had ruined us, another Head was given us in our dear Lord Jesus Christ. He was to put all right. He was to come and live amongst us a hard, suffering Life, and then to die upon the Cross for each of us one by one. Well may the Church cry out:

“O happy fault that has had such a Redeemer!”

The Promised One

Some people ask: “Why did God put our first parents to this trial when He knew they would fall under it, and knew the terrible consequence to themselves and to all their children? ”

The first and chief reason is because He is Lord and Master. He can do what He wills, and all that He does is not only right and good, but the best, as we shall see some day.

Another reason is this: Though God can never will what is evil, He can and does continually bring good out of evil. The fall of Adam and Eve, and with them of the whole human family, was a frightful evil, but out of this harm God has brought the greatest good.

By coming amongst us and becoming one of us, in order to put right again what was so wrong, He has done more than put all right. He has given us much more than we had lost. And His best gift to us is – Himself. Since the Incarnation we no longer think of Him as far away in Heaven, where we can scarcely reach Him even by thought, but as one of ourselves – a Man who could be seen, and heard, and handled, a Man with a country and a family, with ancestors good and bad, with a Mother and a home; a Man with friends and enemies; a Man with a certain character and ways, with His likes and dislikes, with His sorrows and His joys. This Man is our God, the God whom we have to adore and love. Can we not do this easily now, when He has come so near to us that we may study Him and know Him almost as we know a neighbour of next door? Truly God knows how to draw good out of evil!

We must notice, for they are very important, the words in which the Redeemer was promised by God Himself.

As soon as Adam and Eve had sinned, they, for the first time, were afraid of God. “And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in Paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves amidst the trees of Paradise.

“And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou?

“And he said: I heard Thy voice, and I was afraid, and I bid myself.

“And He said to him: Thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat.

“And Adam said: The woman whom Thou gavest me to be my companion gave me of the tree and I did eat.

“And the Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this?

“And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I did eat.

“And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all beasts of the earth. I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”

Thus from the beginning, and in the words of God Himself, are the Redeemer and His Mother placed together, just as we see them in our pictures and statues. There is to be enmity, that is, hatred and warfare, between her and her Divine Child on one side, and all the brood of the serpent, the wicked angels, on the other. She through her Son is to crush the serpent’s head, and the serpent in revenge will lie in wait for her other children, all those of whom her Son has made Himself the Brother.

As the Redeemer has His types or figures all through the long years when the world was waiting for Him, so has His Mother hers. And when at last He came, the word of God again places together the Mother and her Child. Those, who seek Him find “the Child with Mary His Mother,” In sorrow and in joy they are side by side. “Take the Child and His Mother,” is the order when the Babe has to fly for His life. At a marriage feast “the Mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus also was invited.” She followed Him about during His preaching. And when at last He redeemed the world with His Blood, “there stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother,” We must never separate what God Himself has thus joined together.

How hard the life of Adam and Eve must have been during their nine hundred years of penance! Could those who had known the paradise of pleasure ever get used to the world outside! “Cursed is the earth in thy work,” God had said to Adam; “with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art and into dust thou shalt return.”

But hard labour was only a small part of their penance. What must it have been to see on every side, as time went on, the evil fruits of their sin; not only disease and death, but death in its most frightful form – to see their first child a murderer, and the murderer of his brother! We can picture them sitting sadly band in hand after Abel’s death, recalling the time when wickedness and pain and sorrow were things unknown.

One comfort alone was left to them – the Promise, that Promise which had brightened their last moments in Paradise, and now shed its cheering light on the dark world outside. How far they understood what it meant, we cannot tell. But they built all their hopes on it, and handed it on to their children and children’s children to be guarded as their most precious bequest And when at last they left this world and went to that place of rest called Limbo, where the souls of the just were detained till the gates of Heaven should be re-opened, it was to wait with eager expectation for His Coming who was to undo and more than undo all the harm their sin had done.

Century after century went by, and still He did not come. But the Promise became fuller and clearer, as a river, small at its source, broadens by the streams that flow into it. The race, the tribe, the family, and at last the time of His Coming, were made known. The kind of man He would be. His work, His sufferings, His death, were foretold vaguely indeed, here and there, yet with sufficient clearness to enable man to recognize Him when He came. The life of other men is written after their death. But God, who knows all things and who had arranged even the smallest circumstances of the Life of His Divine Son, would have the main events of His history written long before His Birth.

He was to save men not only after His Coming but before. His Precious Blood flows backward as well as forward, and by It, all those who will ever reach Heaven, from Adam and Eve downwards, will enter there.

Therefore, even before He came, God would have men know something of Him to whom the whole human family owes all the happiness it has in this life as well as all it hopes for in the next. They could not know Him as fully as we do who have the story of His Life in our hands and can study it every day if we will. But it is wonderful how much God did tell men by means of His prophets. These were holy men to whom He showed now this event, now that in the Life of Him who was to come. Were we to put together all that the prophets told of Him, we should find His Life was written hundreds of years before He came.

Men knew He was to be of the race of Abraham, therefore a Jew, of the Tribe of Judah, of the family of David.

His Mother was to be a Virgin: “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His name shall b« called Emmanuel, which being interpreted, is God with us.”

He was to be born in Bethlehem: “And thou, Bethlehem, art a little one among the thousands of Juda; out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be the Ruler in Israel.”

He would be meek and bumble of Heart, compassionate and forgiving. “I will seek that which was lost, and I will bind up that which was broken, and I will strengthen that which was weak.”

He would go about doing good: “Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free.”

In spite of His wonderful works and His miracles of mercy, He would be hated and rejected by His own people: “Despised and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity.”

One of His chosen friends would sell Him to His enemies: “And they weighed for My wages thirty pieces of silver.”

He would be scourged and spit upon, and buffeted, and crucified: “I have given my body to the strikers and my cheeks to them that plucked them; I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me and spat upon me.” “They have dug my hands and feet. They have numbered all my bones. They have parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they cast lots.”

After death He was to rise again: “For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption.”

These prophecies belonged to God’s chosen people the Jews, who guarded them jealously, and studied them with diligence and delight, those especially that told of the Messiah’s greatness and power: “I will make Him higher than the kings of the earth.” “Sit thou at My right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” They took these words to mean that He was to be a great king of this world who would make their nation the grandest of the earth, and give them in abundance honours, riches and all the pleasant things of this life. But other prophecies quite as clear which described Him as “a Man of sorrows, a Leper, One struck by God and afflicted,” they passed by unnoticed. And when He came poor and lowly, a King indeed not of this world, they would not own Him for the Messiah of the prophets, but persecuted Him and put Him to death.

There was another way by which the world was prepared for the coming Redeemer. As He was foretold in prophecy, so He was foreshadowed in types or figures, by which we mean certain persons or things in the Old Law representing persons or things in the New.

We all know that there is nothing like a picture for giving right notions and correcting wrong ones. A teacher who has anything difficult to explain – the structure of a flower, the plan of a battle, the family of a king – turns at once to the blackboard, and with a few strokes of chalk shows easily what many words would never have made clear.

God taught His people by examples as well as by words. In a number of types He sketched before their eyes the character of the Messiah and the main lines of the work He was to do. The likeness fell far short of the perfect beauty of our lord’s character, but it was a likeness still.

Innocent Abel, slain through jealousy by his brother, was a figure of Christ put to death through the hatred and envy of His brethren, the Jews:

Noe who built an ark, one only, to save all who entered therein, prefigured our Lord, the Founder of one Church for the salvation of men:

Isaac, the beloved son of his father, willingly submitting to death, and carrying the wood on which he was to be sacrificed, represented the well beloved Son of God led without resistance to the slaughter, and bearing His own cross on the way to Calvary.

We can all see how the following were types of our Lord:

Joseph sold for twenty pieces of silver, thrown into prison with two criminals, then raised to honour and becoming the saviour of his people:

Moses, saved from death in his infancy; sent by God to deliver his people from a cruel bondage, and lead them safely through the desert to the land of promise; fasting forty days; giving the Law to the people of God; feeding them with bread from Heaven; delivering them from their enemies; working miracles for them again and again, yet saddened by their murmuring and ingratitude:

David, born in Bethlehem; rebelled against by his subjects; insulted in bis affliction; followed by a faithful few; gentle, merciful, and patient.

These in their character reflect our Lord’s beautiful virtues.

Others, such as Josue, Samson, Jonas, Solomon, in their actions foreshadow His. In many of their acts we may see but little resemblance to our Lord’s, and in some what is very unlike. But this does not prevent their being types of Him. All such types, and others, such as the Paschal Lamb, the Brazen Serpent, the Manna, are like little bits of mosaic that have to be pieced together to make up a beautiful and perfect picture. The Son of God was not coming on earth in blinding light and majesty, as men might have imagined, but in poverty, and humility. It was to help them to recognize Him as God without the glory of God about Him that such an abundance of type and prophecy was provided.

Time went on. Nearly four thousand years bad passed since the Great Promise was made in Paradise. One Empire had followed another, conquering and conquered in its turn. And now the whole world waa in peace, for mighty Rome had crushed every rival. But peace did not mean that men were happy. Never had they been more miserable. The worship of false gods had brought them so low, that animals, trees, stones, wicked things even – theft, rebellion against parents, cruelty, murder, bad passions of every kind – nay, the very devils themselves, were adored as gods.

The strong cruelly oppressed the weak. Men and women were so given up to the pleasure of soft, self-indulgent lives, that their hearts were hardened against the sight of pain and misery. The weak and the helpless – children, slaves, the poor, the old, the sick, were treated with a barbarity that only the most frightful selfishness can explain.

Truly the world needed its Saviour!

The Jewish prophecies were known far and wide, and all over the East there was the expectation of a Deliverer who was to appear in Judea. No man knew exactly what He was to do, but He would reform the world in some way, set right all that was wrong, and bring a golden age to the earth.

Among the Jews themselves there was naturally a more eager waiting and watching. They knew the prophecies by heart. They could tell better than the heathen what the work of the Messiah was to be. And now that the time was at hand, the best among them were earnestly praying for the speedy coming of those Promised Ones, the Woman who was to be the serpent’s enemy, and her Child who was to redeem the world.


A Joyful Surprise

Before our Lord came, the holiest place in the world was the Temple of Jerusalem. Only there would God allow sacrifice to be offered, and there twice a day it was offered – a little lamb was slain, and the smoke of sweet-smelling incense rose from the golden altar in the Holy Place. At the hour of incense the people assembled in their part of the Temple, the open Courts, and prayed silently, in union with the priest who was within.

One day there was a great stir among them. A priest whose name was Zachary had been a long time in the Holy Place, and when he came out he was trembling – and dumb. What had happened? They crowded round him to ask, but he made signs to show he could not speak. The news spread fast that Zachary had seen something wonderful, and that he looked as if he had heard good news.

Good news! Indeed he had; he was dumb because he had thought it too good to be true. For many years he and his wife Elizabeth had longed to have a child, in the hope that the Messiah, now so near, might be of their family. But God had not seen good to hear their prayer, and when all expectation was gone, they had made His Will their own, and encouraged one another to bear their disappointment bravely.

Now, on this day, just as Zachary was going to pour the incense upon the flame, he saw a glorious vision – an Angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar. And seeing him he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the Angel paid to him:

“Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard.”

Then he went on to tell him that Elizabeth should have a son who should bring gladness to many. Even as a little child he would he great before God, and when he was grown up he would convert many of his people and prepare them for the coming of the Messiah.

Bewildered by such a joyful surprise, Zachary asked how he should know all this was true.

“I am Gabriel, who stand before God,” was the answer, “and am sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be able to speak until the day wherein these things shall come to pass, because thou hast not believed my words which shall be fulfilled in their time.” So Zachary had the sign he asked, though it was a punishment too because of his unbelief.

Good news, as well as bad, travels fast, and when a week later he returned to his home at Ain-Karim, in the hill country of Judea, he found that Elizabeth had heard all that people knew about the vision in the Temple. She came out to meet him, anxious, yet, somehow, full of joyful expectation. He laid his finger on his lips, sent for his writing tablets, and, with a trembling hand, wrote down all that had passed. Then they rejoiced together, and thanked God for His goodness to them, and waited in quiet happiness for the fulfillment of His promise.

Weeks passed by, and months. Priest after priest went by turn into the Holy Place to offer incense, and Zachary’s vision came to he forgotten. But not by all. Not by those who noted every sign of the Messiah being at band. There was an old man in Jerusalem who had a promise from God that he should not die till he had seen the Christ of the Lord. There was an aged woman who departed not from the Temple, serving night and day lest she should miss the Lord at His Coming. Such as these did not forget. And all over the world, wherever Jews were to be found, were eager hearts praying Him to come quickly.

Where was the most eager? Was it in Jerusalem among the doctors of the Law, whose life was spent in the study of the prophecies? Was it the High Priest’s, or that holy old man’s, or the aged woman’s, or Zachary’s, or Elizabeth’s?

No. Not in Jerusalem, nor among the learned, nor those who had grown old in the service of God. Where then?

Holy Mary

Hate you ever watched the clouds on a wild day hiding the sun? They move along, a dark, heavy mass, as if determined to keep his light from the waiting world. At times, through the rifts, you catch a glimpse of him; or there is a golden border which shows he is somewhere near. You think he must be coming soon. But no, it is all too dark for him yet Suddenly, in the midst of the gloom appears a little white cloud. It grows bright, brighter and brighter as he fills it with his glory. Yes, surely he is there; only his splendour could make it shine like that. A few moments at most and he must show himself; a few moments and he will scatter the darkness and flood the earth with light.

Hidden among the mountains of Galilee, amid a profusion of wild flowers, lies the village of Nazareth, the houses, small, low, with flat roofs, looking like little white boxes set on the slope of the hill. That one, half cottage, half rock, the lowest in the steep street, is the home of Joseph, the carpenter of the place. All things are in quiet silence. Night is in the midst of her course. No light anywhere, except the stars overhead, and they shine out brightly in the clear, frosty air, for it is the month of March. Yes! a lamp is burning in that last house. Who can be the watcher there when all the village is asleep? Let us go in noiselessly and see.

Alone in her little room kneels a girl of fourteen. What a wonderful face! so grave and yet so sweet, so childlike and innocent, and still be full of dignity. She must be very near to God. A great reverence comes over us as we gaze upon her, and we fall on our knees. This can be no ordinary child. Let us go back fourteen years and learn what we can about her.

Her name is Miriam, or Mary, which means “Lady,” and also “Star of the Sea.” Her holy parents, Joachim and Anne, had prayed long and earnestly for a child to gladden their old age before this blessed child was given them. Who shall ever tell what she was to them! They were never tired of watching her at prayer or play, and when she thought herself alone; and they soon found out that she knew more about God and holy things than they could tell her. It seemed to them that God Himself was her Teacher, and they reverenced her as one very precious in His sight What would have been their awe and their joy had they known that she was to be the Mother of His only Son I Yes, she was to be the woman promised long ago in Paradise who was to crush the serpent’s head, the Mother of Him who was to redeem the world, the Mother of God. And God was getting her ready for this. Think what a preparation it must have been.

Solomon’s Temple was many years building because everything in it had to he of such costly material – marbles, and sweet-scented, incorruptible cedar, and precious stones, all “artfully wrought and carved. The floor of the house was overlaid with gold within and without, and there was nothing in the Temple that was not gold or covered with gold – the altar of gold, and the table of gold, and the golden candlesticks of pure gold, and flowers like lilies, and the lamps over them of gold, and golden snuffers, and censers of most pure gold, and the hinges for the doors of the inner house of the Holy of Holies gold, pure gold, most pure gold.” Why? Because everything about this house of God must be as far as possible worthy of Him, Yet the Temple of Jerusalem, with its Holy of Holies, its Ark of the Covenant, and its Tables of the Law, what was it compared with that Blessed One whom He had chosen to be His Mother? What must He do to make her worthy, as far as she could be worthy, to have God for her Son?

First of all there must be no sin. When we are going to embroider richly on white satin, we take care to see that it is spotless. It would be wasting our silk and our gold thread to lay them on what is soiled, or ever has been soiled. God prizes spotlessness more than we do. He was going to enrich His Mother with His best gifts, and the first must be a perfect purity. No stain of sin must so much as come near her. She must be more dazzling in her whiteness than the Angels who come nearest His throne.

But what about original sin? was not Mary a child of Adam? Yes; and she would have been stained with Adam’s sin had not God kept her free because of her nearness to Himself, She was not cleansed from original sin as babies are when they have been baptized, for no sin of any kind ever touched her.

Some people cannot understand why Mary should have had this perfect freedom from sin which we call the Immaculate Conception. It would he clear as day to them if they would think who Mary is. A Protestant lady, who had this difficulty, was asked:

“Do you believe that Jesus Christ the Son of Mary is truly God? ”

“I do,” she answered reverently.

“And is there anything God could do for His Mother that He would not for His own sake be bound to do?”

She was silent for a moment, and then said: “I do not think there is.”

It was the Precious Blood that even before our Lord came saved Mary so grandly, and preserved her from the sin that has spoilt everyone else: “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour,” she says. “For He that is mighty bath done great things to me.”

Imagine a burning mountain throwing up flames and volumes of smoke; the burning lava pouring down the sides, destroying fields, vineyards, cottages, cattle. Down it rushes, leaving everything a black ruin behind it. Down, down, till it is suddenly checked before a fair garden that lies in its way; checked and turned aside, so that no harm is done, and the trees and flowers and fruit look all the more lovely for the desolation around.

So was the torrent of original sin stayed when it came to Mary.

When the little Mary was three years old, she was carried by her parents to the Temple to be solemnly offered to God. She understood quite well what she was going to do. She knew that God had done great things for her, and she wanted to give herself entirely to Him, that He might do just as He liked with her always, whether it was what she liked or not With her hands joined, her face bright with holy joy, she went up alone the fifteen steps, her parents looking on with admiration and gladness. And with sorrow, too. For they were going to leave her in the Temple to be brought up with other Jewish girls, and they thought how sad and lonely they would be without her.

As she grew older Mary spent her time in prayer, in working for the Temple, and in studying the holy Scriptures, The parts she liked best were the prophecies which told of the promised Redeemer. She knew His time was come. Perhaps He was even now upon earth. Perhaps His Mother might be in want of a little servant. Oh, how happy she would be to wait upon them both!

When she was about fourteen years old, she left her home in the Temple to be espoused to Joseph, a carpenter, and to take care of a little home of her own at Nazareth. Her life was different now. No more glorious services morning and evening, but a life of work, and of very humble work. But she was content, more than content; she was quite happy, and she made Joseph happy by her brightness, her tenderness, her sweet, unselfish ways. As he came to know her more and more, he was filled with the deepest reverence for her, child though she was. And he was worthy of her, for he came next to her in holiness and nearness to God. He was trusted with the greatest treasure God had on earth, and he was about to be trusted with One more precious still.

Holy Mother of God

Let us go back now to that night in March and see Mary kneeling in her little room in prayer. Her heart is full, fuller to-night than ever with the thought that fills it always. When, when will He come? Why does He delay so long? Oh, that He would rend the heavens and come down!

Her lamp burns low as she prays on. How reverent she is, how still. Her strong prayer is moving God Himself.

See! See! in the midst of a dazzling light, not of this world, an Angel stands before her. He comes near, and, kneeling, salutes her:

“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women!”

What glorious praise, and from one so high and holy! For this is Gabriel, one of the seven who stand before God. How will she answer him?

There is no answer. A blush, a troubled look is on her beautiful face as she thinks within herself what manner of salutation this may be. She knows we cannot always trust those who speak to us in words of praise, and surely such words as these are not for her. Is this a messenger from God? She will be silent till he speaks again.

The Angel sees her trouble and says:

“Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold, thou shalt bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father, and He shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.”

See her listening, coming to understand that she, the little handmaid of the Lord, is to be the Mother of the Messiah. Does she break forth into words of thanksgiving and praise? No, she has a question to ask, for she is not sure yet what God wants. Long ago she promised to belong only to Him, to be His little hand-maid or servant all her life. She does not know if she can do this and be the Mother of the Messiah as well, and she will not break her promise to God for anything. She is quite calm and mistress of herself. Gabriel has told her that her Son shall be the Son of the Most High, that of His Kingdom there shall be no end – and she is not excited or overjoyed. She knows from the prophecies that the Messiah is to be a Man of Sorrows, and that His Mother will have to share His pains – and she is not frightened. All she wants is to know the Will of God.

The great Archangel beholds her with profoundest admiration. There is no holiness in heaven to equal this. He thought he knew how far the love of God and forgetfulness of self can go, but the little Maiden of Nazareth has taken him by surprise. He understands now the full meaning of those reverent words which God Himself put upon his lips: “Hail, full of grace!” He bows lower before her – see how low I This is he who in words of majesty rebuked the aged priest of the Temple. But in Mary’s presence, what a difference! He speaks to her as to one far above him; he waits while she ponders what he has said; he solves her doubts; he waits for her reply.

When at length she is satisfied that it is God’s Will she should be the Mother of the Messiah, and that He wants her consent, thinking neither of the dignity nor of the pain this will bring upon her, she bows her head and says:

“Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.”

And the Word was made Flesh and dwelt amongst us.

And the Angel returned to God who sent him; and all Heaven was made glad that night.