Jesus' Infancy and Hidden Life

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Simplified

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The Prophets and John the Baptist (522-524)

God prepared the world for his Son's coming. God had the prophets announce Jesus. God even awakened expectation in pagan hearts.

John the Baptist surpassed "all the prophets, of which he was the last." Even in his mother's womb, he announced Christ's presence. Later, he rejoiced as the "friend of the bridegroom" (Jn 3:29) and went before Jesus "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Lk 1:17).

The Advent liturgy highlights John's martyrdom and instills in us his words: "He must increase, but I must decrease" (Jn 3:30).

Our Christmas Mystery (525-526)

In the poverty of Jesus' birth (witnessed first by shepherds) heaven's glory was manifested. "The virgin today brings into the world the Eternal and the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible" (Romanus the Melodist).

Becoming a child (the condition for entering the Kingdom) demands being "born from above" (Jn 3:7). Christmas is fulfilled when Christ is formed in us. "We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbles himself to share our humanity" (Antiphon for January 1st liturgy).

The Circumcision (527)

Jesus' circumcision on the eighth day (Lk 2:21) is the sign of his submission to the law and his future participation in Israel's worship. This sign prefigures the sacrament of Baptism (Col 2:11-13).

The Three Wise Men (528)

The Epiphany event (which includes the wise men, Jesus' Baptism, and the wedding feast of Cana) manifests Jesus as Israel's Messiah, the Son of God and Savior of the world. The Magi represent the pagan nations who will welcome the Gospel. By their coming to Jerusalem, they correctly seek in Israel the king of the nations. Only by turning toward the Jews can the pagans discover Jesus. All the nations are part of the "family of the patriarchs" and "worthy of the heritage of Israel" (St. Leo the Great).

Encounter in the Temple (529)

By his presentation in the temple, Jesus is manifested as the first born who belongs to the Lord. His "encounter" (the name used in Byzantine tradition) with Simeon and Anna symbolizes the recognition of Jesus as "light of the nations" and "the glory of Israel." Mary's sorrow prefigures Christ's death which will be a salvation "for all the peoples" (Lk 2:22-39).

Fleeing to Egypt (530)

The massacre of the innocents causes Jesus' flight into Egypt and shows the opposition of darkness to the light. "His own people received him not" (Jn 1:11). His return from Egypt recalls the exodus and shows Jesus as the definitive liberator of God's people (Mt 2:15).

Thirty Years of Obedience (531-533)

For thirty years, Jesus engaged in manual labor and lived as a Jew obedient to God's law. He was "obedient" to his parents and "grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man" (Lk 2:51-52).

Jesus' obedience was an image of his obedience to his heavenly Father and anticipated his obedience in the Garden. Through obedience, he restored what Adam's disobedience had destroyed (Rom 5:19).

By our daily ordinary actions, we enter into fellowship with Jesus. "Jesus' home in Nazareth is a school, teaching us the value of silence, family life, and the redeeming law of human work" (Pope Paul VI).

Consecrated to the Father (534)

Jesus' staying behind in the temple (the only recorded event of his hidden life) showed his total consecration to his divine mission. His parents did not fully understand Jesus' reply, "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's work?" (Lk 2:41-52).

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