by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

This is the only incident of His boyhood told in the Scriptures. For the next eighteen years, He stayed in Nazareth.

Then He went back with them to Nazareth, and continued to be under their authority; His mother treasured up all these things in her heart. As Jesus grew up He advanced in wisdom and in favor with God and men.  [Luke 2: 51]

If there ever was a Son Who might have been expected to claim personal independence [especially after His powerful affirmation in the temple], it was He. And yet to sanctify and exemplify human obedience, and to make up for the disobedience of men, He lived under a humble roof, obedient to His parents. For eighteen uneventful years He fixed the flat roofs of Nazarene homes and mended the wagons of the farmers. Every mean and lowly task was part of the Father's business. Human development of the God-man unfolded in the village so naturally that not even the townspeople were conscious of the greatness of Him Who dwelled in their midst. It was indeed a going "down" in the sense that it was a self-denial and a self-abnegation for Him to submit Himself to His own creatures. He evidently followed the trade of a Carpenter, for eighteen years later, the townspeople were to ask:

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary? [Mark 6:3]

Justin Martyr, basing himself on tradition, says that during this time Our Lord made plows and yokes, and taught men righteousness through the products of His peaceful toil.

The growth in wisdom that is spoken of in the Divine Child was not, as we have seen, a growth in His consciousness of Divinity. Inasmuch as He was a man, He was subject to all the laws which regulate human growth; having a human intellect and a human will, it was natural for these faculties to unfold in a human way. In the development of His experimental knowledge, the influence of His environment is to be particularly noted. Many of the comparisons which He used in parables were borrowed from the world in which He had lived. It was through the influence of His parents that He learned the common language of Aramaic, and, without doubt, also the liturgical language of Hebrew. Very likely, He learned Greek Since it was spoken to some extent in Galilee and was also apparently the language of at least two of His relatives, James the Minor and Jude, who later wrote their Epistles in Greek.

He also learned the trade of Carpentry which involved a further development of the human intellect. Later On, He was accorded the title of Rabbi because of His profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the Law. He often introduced discussions with the words, "Have you not read," thus demonstrating His knowledge of the Scriptures. His family, the synagogue, His surroundings, nature itself---all contributed a little to His human intellect and will. He had both a human intellect and a human will. Without the first, He could not have grown in human experimental knowledge; without the second, He could not have been obedient to a higher will. Furthermore, both were essential to Him as man. He had created knowledge as man; as God, He went beyond human knowledge. This is what John describes as the "Word," which signifies the Wisdom or the Thought or the Intelligence of God.

When all things began, the Word already was. The Word dwelt with God, and what God was, the Word was . . . through him all things came to be; no single thing was created without him . . . So the Word became flesh; he came to dwell among them. [John 1:1,3,14]

The intimate relations which He had with His Father in Heaven were not just those that came from prayer and meditation; these any human being may establish. They came rather from the identity of nature with the Godhead.

Inasmuch as the most general sin of mankind is pride or the exaltation of the ego, it was fitting that in atoning for that pride, Christ should practice obedience. He was not like one who is obedient for the sake of a reward, or in order to build up his character for the future; rather, being the Son, He already enjoyed the love of the Father to the full. It was out of this very fullness that there flowed a childlike surrender to His Father's will. He gave this as the reason for His surrender to the Cross. Within an hour or so before going into His Agony in the Garden, He would say:

The world must be shown that I love the Father, and do exactly as he commands. [John 14:30-31]

The only acts of Christ's childhood which are recorded are acts of obedience---Obedience to His Heavenly Father and to His earthly parents. The foundation of obedience to man, He taught, is obedience to God. The elders who serve not God find that the young serve them not. His whole life was submission. He submitted to John's Baptism, though He did not need it; He submitted to the temple tax, though as the Son of the Father, He was exempt from it; and He bade His own followers to submit to Caesar. Calvary cast its shadow over Bethlehem; so now it darkened the obedient years at Nazareth. In being subject to creatures, though He was God, He prepared Himself for that final obedience---Obedience to the humiliation of the Cross.

For the next eighteen years, after the three-day loss, He Who had made the universe played the role of a village carpenter, a maker in wood. The familiar nails and crossbeams in the shop would later on become the instruments of His own torture; and He would Himself be hammered to a tree. One wonders why this long preparation for such a brief ministry of three years. The reason might very well be that He waited until the human nature which He had assumed had grown in age to full perfection, that He might then offer the perfect sacrifice to His Heavenly Father. The farmer waits until the wheat is ripe before cutting it and subjecting it to the mill. So He would wait until His human nature had reached its most perfect proportions and its peak of loveliness, before surrendering it to the hammer of the crucifiers and the sickle of those who would cut down the Living Bread of Heaven. The newborn Iamb was never offered in sacrifice, nor is the first blush of the rose cut to pay tribute to a friend. Each thing has its hour of perfection. Since He was the Lamb that could set the hour for His own sacrifice, since He was the Rose that could choose the moment of its cutting, He waited patiently, humbly and obediently, while He grew in age and grace and wisdom before God and man. Then He would say: "This is your Hour." Thus the choicest wheat and the reddest wine would become the worthiest elements of sacrifice.