Within Christ’s family, parental authority is very gentle, always thoughtful, and delicately expressed. That authority, however, needs to be enlightened, because his parents do not initially realize the full implications of the mission of the child growing up in their home. They are aware of their Son’s vocation in broad outline, but its details will become clear to them only as events unfold. […]
[I]n regard to his parents, Christ was completely submissive and never evaded their authority. When necessary, he explains to his parents in confidential conversations and gentle words, just who he is and just what lies ahead according to the ancient prophecies.
Undoubtedly, on more than one occasion, Jesus had evenings of conversation with Mary, his mother, discussing the meaning of the texts from Isaiah, which describe him as “a man of suffering” [Is 53:3]. It is in this light that we will observe the Virgin Mary along the road Christ followed on his way to Calvary. She is there as a witness, accompanying her son and sharing in his Passion. Yet she is in no way surprised.
He enlightens his parents and clarifies their authority, which is insufficiently aware of what awaits him in his mission. He does enlighten them, but he remains subject to them. He does point out to them only this: that his calling rests with a higher authority, delegated to them in certain regards. That higher authority is God, his Father.
Servant of God Père Jacques de Jésus, O.C.D.
Retreat for the Carmel of Pontoise: Conference 9 on Authority
Friday morning, 10 September 1943
Jacques, P 2005, Listen to the silence: a retreat with Père Jacques, translated from the French and edited by Murphy F, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Featured image: The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple is an oil on canvas painting executed 1854–1860 by William Holman Hunt (1827–1910), an English painter and co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press) indicates that “Hunt’s work was remarkable for its minute precision, its accumulation of incident, and its didactic emphasis on moral or social symbolism, and he made three visits to the Middle East so he could paint biblical scenes with accurate local detail.” The artwork featured above is in the collection of the Birmingham Museums Trust.