The Hidden Life of Our Lord as told to Gianna Sullivan
These revelations of Jesus Christ to Gianna Sullivan inform us about the hidden life of Jesus from his presence in the womb of Mary, his mother, to the time when he was about eight years old. They tell of how his heart was being formed by his mother while still in the womb, of his birth, and the help the shepherds extended to Joseph. But what stands out is that there was nothing extraordinary or spectacular about the life of Jesus as a child. Nothing set him aside or made him different from any other child growing in the arms of loving parents. We could say that if anything made his life special, it was that it includes all children and people of the world. No one is excluded from this invitation to live their life in Christ.
This ordinary life was first of all the life that Mary lived. She made no impression in the eyes of the people in Egypt or Nazareth of anything out of the ordinary. As the wife of Joseph, the carpenter, she lived like any other woman of the time, taking care of the family and household chores, cooking, and cleaning. If anything made her different from other women, it was her “fiat” to God. Every step of her life was in step with God. She said yes to God and never took it back.
Jesus came into the world poor and humble instead of as the glorious, righteous king to be attended to by others. In this world where people like to possess as much as the world can offer, they fail to recognize that if they want to receive the joy of divine things, they must walk as Jesus did, in poverty of spirit. This means that they must learn to accept themselves, even if they go unnoticed in life, and even if their talents may be simple, not special. This is the way Jesus lived. He did not exemplify any superiority or wealth. Satan would like us to be taken up with the glamorous life and be submerged in temporary pleasures. He would like us to compromise the mission of our life, which is to live in total spiritual poverty, by feeding on the prestige of the world. Jesus, on the other hand, embraced humanity with its misery, pain, loneliness, and helplessness without accepting divine power. This mystery is the key to understanding how divinity came into humanity and how divinity is within the reach of each of us. Mary taught Jesus just as all parents have a responsibility to teach their children. She taught him the truths of Scripture, which she learned so well as a child growing up in the temple and which she continued meditating on. She learned that the closer you get to God, the more you must be cleansed, purged, and tried so that you can obtain total union with the Trinity. Faith is belief and trust in God’s love for us. It is the Fountain of Life where we see the Light of God. It gives us a repugnance for sin. In faith and love each of us is invited to total union with God.
Mary is our mother, too. As she taught Jesus, she will teach us too. She will show us the Way and lead us to this total union with him. These are some of the truths that she in fact teaches us as we read these revelations. We find in them the teachings of Jesus and Mary, the simple Gospel account of Jesus’ hidden life fleshed out for us, yes, but without losing any of its simplicity or profundity.
Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD is the English translator of the writings of both St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. He is a member of the Institute of Carmelite Studies and was the vice postulator for the canonization of St. Edith Stein.