Accidental Glory, Acts of Virtue, Adam, Altar, Angelic Choirs, Angelic Music, Bethlehem, Children Of Men, Circumcision, Copious Tears, Divine Fire, Divine Infant, Divine Interference, Eternal Father, First Fruits, flint knife, Great Prophet Of The Lord, Hard-heartedness, Holy Obedience, Human Nature, Incarnate Word, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Medicines, Mortals, Most Prudent Mother, Onlybegotten, pain and healing, Queen and Lady of the Angels, Redeemer, Reverence and Worship, Sacrifice, Saint Joseph, Saints In Heaven, Savior, suffering, swaddling-clothes, Sweet Harmony, Synagogue, Tears Of Joy, Tears Of The Mother, Tender Love, Virgin Mother, Wax Candles
The following is from Chapter XIV of Venerable Mother Mary of Agreda’s “The Mystical City Of God” as explained to her by the Blessed Virgin Mother for the new enlightenment of the world, for rejoicing of the Catholic Church, and for the encouragement of men.
The Divine Infant Is Circumcised And Receives The Name JESUS
530. Like other towns of Israel, the city of Bethlehem had its own synagogue, where the people came together to pray (wherefore it was also called the ‘house of prayer’), and to hear the law of Moses. This was read and explained by a priest from the pulpit in a loud voice, in order that the people might understand its precepts. But in these synagogues no sacrifices were offered; this was reserved for the temple of Jerusalem, except when the Lord commanded otherwise. It was not left to the choice of the people, in order to avoid the danger of idolatry, as is mentioned in Deuteronomy (12,6).
But the priest, who was the teacher or minister of the law in those places, was usually also charged with administering the circumcision; not that this was a binding law, for not only priests but any one could perform the circumcision; but because the pious mothers firmly believed that the infants would run less danger in being circumcised by the hands of a priest.
Our great Queen, not on account of any apprehension of danger, but because of the dignity of the Child, also wished a priest administer this rite to Him; and therefore She sent her most fortunate spouse to Bethlehem to call the priest of that town.
531. The priest came to the gates or cave of the Nativity, where the Incarnate Word, resting in the arms of His Virgin Mother, awaited him.
With the priest came also other officials, who were to render such assistance as was customary at the performance of the rite.
The rudeness of the dwelling at first astonished and somewhat disconcerted the priest. But the most prudent Queen spoke to him and welcomed him with such modesty and grace that his constraints soon changed into devotion and into admiration at the composure and noblest majesty of the Mother; and without knowing the cause he was moved to reverence and esteem for such an unusual personage.
When the priest looked upon the face of Mary and of the Child in her arms he was filled with great devotion and tenderness, wondering at the contrast exhibited amid such poverty and in a place so lowly and despised. And,
when he proceeded to touch the Divine flesh of the Infant, he was renovated by a secret influence which sanctified and perfected him; it gave him a new existence in grace, and raised him up to a state of holiness very pleasing to the most high Lord.
532. In order to show as much exterior reverence for the sacred rite of circumcision as was possible in that place, Saint Joseph lighted two wax candles.
The priest requested the Virgin Mother to consign the Child to the arms of the two assistants and withdraw for a little while in order not to be obliged to witness the sacrifice.
This command caused some hesitation in the great Lady; for her humility and spirit of obedience inclined Her to obey the priest, while on the other hand She was withheld by the love and reverence for her Onlybegotten.
In order not to fail against either of these virtues, She humbly requested to be allowed to remain, saying that She desired to be present at the performance of this rite, since She held it in great esteem, and that She would have courage to hold Her Son in Her arms, as She wished not to leave Him alone on such an occasion. All that She would ask would be that the circumcision be performed with as much tenderness as possible on account of the delicacy of the Child.
The priest promised to fulfill Her request, and permitted the Child to be held in the arms of His Mother for fulfilling the mystery.
Thus She became the sacred altar on which the truths typified in the ancient sacrifice became a reality (Hebrews 9, 6); and She herself offered up this new morning’s sacrifice on Her own arms in order that it might be acceptable to the eternal Father in all particulars.
533. The divine Mother then unwound the swaddling clothes in which Her most holy Son was wrapped and drew from Her bosom a towel or linen cloth, which She had previously placed there for the purpose of warming it; for the weather was very cold on that day.
While holding the Child in Her hands She so placed this towel that the relics and the blood of the Circumcision would fall upon it.
The priest thereupon proceeded to his duty and circumcised the Child, the true God and man.
At the same time the Son of God, with immeasurable love, offered up to the eternal Father three sacrifices of so great value that each one would have been sufficient for the Redemption of a thousand worlds.
The first was that He, being innocent and the Son of the true God, assumed the condition of a sinner (Epistle of St. Paul To The Philippians. 2,7) by subjecting Himself to a rite instituted as a remedy for original sin, and to a law not binding on Him (Second Epistle of St. Paul To The Corinthians. 5,21).
The second was His willingness to suffer the pains of circumcision, which He felt as a true and perfect man.
The third was the most ardent love with which He began to shed His blood for the human race, giving thanks to the eternal Father for having given Him a human nature capable of suffering for His exaltation and glory.
534. This prayerful sacrifice of JESUS our Savior the Father accepted, and, according to our way of speaking, He began to declare Himself satisfied and paid for the indebtedness of humanity.
The Incarnate Word offered these first fruits of His blood as pledges that He would give it all in order to consummate the Redemption and extinguish the debt of the sons of Adam.
All these interior acts and movements of the Onlybegotten His most holy Mother perceived, and in Her heavenly wisdom She penetrated the mystery of this sacrament, acting as His Mother and in concert with Her Son and Lord in all that He was doing and suffering.
True to His human nature, the divine Infant shed tears as other children. Although the pains caused by the wounding were most severe, as well on account of the delicacy of His body as on account of the coarseness of the knife, which was made of flint, yet His tears were caused not so much by the sensible pain as by the supernatural sorrow caused by His knowledge of the hard-heartedness of mortals.
For this was more rude and unyielding than the flint, resisting His sweetest love and the divine fire He had come to enkindle in the world and in the hearts of the faithful (Luke 12,49).
Also the tender and affectionate Mother wept, like the guileless sheep, which raises its voice in unison with the innocent lamb.
In reciprocal love and compassion the Child clung to His Mother, while She sweetly caressed Him at Her virginal breast and caught the sacred relics and the falling blood in the towel.
These She entrusted to Saint Joseph, in order to tend to the divine Infant and wrap Him once more in the swaddling-clothes.
The priest was somewhat surprised at the tears of the Mother; yet, not understanding the mystery, he conjectured that the beauty of the Child might well cause such deep and loving sorrow in Her who had given Him birth.
535. In all these proceedings the Queen of Heaven was so prudent, circumspect and magnanimous, that She caused admiration in the angelic choirs and highest delight to Her Creator.
She gave forth the effulgence of the divine wisdom, which filled Her, performing each of Her actions as perfectly as if She had that alone to perform.
She was unyielding in Her desire of holding the Child in Her arms during the Circumcision, most careful in preserving the relics, most compassionate in Her affliction and tears, feeling Herself His pains, most loving in caresses, most diligent in procuring His comfort, fervent in imitating Him in His works, always careful to treat Him with the highest reverence, without ever failing or intermitting Her acts of virtue, and without ever letting the perfection of one disturb that of the other.
Wonderful spectacle exhibited by a Maiden of fifteen years, and affording even the angels a sort of new lesson and cause of admiration!
In the meanwhile the priest asked the parents what name they wished to give to the Child in Circumcision; the great Lady, always attentive to honor Her spouse, asked Saint Joseph to mention the name.
Saint Joseph turned toward Her in like reverence and gave Her to understand that He thought it proper this sweet name should first flow from Her mouth.
Therefore, by divine interference, both Mary and Joseph said at the same time: “JESUS is His name.”
The priest answered: “The parents are unanimously agreed, and great is the name which they give to the Child”; and thereupon he inscribed it in the tablet or register of names of the rest of the children. While writing it the priest felt great interior movements, so that he shed copious tears; and wondering at what he felt yet not being able to account for, he said: “I am convinced that this Child is to be a great Prophet of the Lord. Have great care in raising Him, and tell me in what I can relieve your needs.”
Most holy Mary and Joseph answered the priest with humble gratitude and dismissed him after offering him the gift of some candles and other articles.
536. Being again left alone with the Child, most holy Mary and Joseph celebrated anew the mystery of the Circumcision, commenting on the holy name of JESUS amid sweet canticles and tears of joy, the fuller knowledge of which (as also of other mysteries which I have mentioned) is reserved as an additional accidental glory to the Saints in Heaven.
The most prudent Mother applied to the wound caused by the knife such medicines as were won’t to be used on such occasions for other children, and during the time while the pain and the healing lasted She would not for a moment part with Him, holding Him in Her arms day and night.
The tender love of the Heavenly Mother is beyond all comprehension or understanding of man; for Her natural love was greater than any other mother was capable of, and Her supernatural love exceeded that of all the angels and saints together.
Her reverence and worship cannot be compared with that of any other created being.
These were the delights of the incarnate Word (Proverbs 8,31), which He desired and longed for among the children of men; and this was the recompense, which His loving heart drew from the exceeding sanctity of the Virgin Mother for the sorrows occasioned Him by their behavior.
Although He pleased Himself in Her alone above all the mortals and in Her found full satisfaction of His love, yet the humble Queen sought to alleviate His bodily pains by all the means within Her power. Therefore, She besought the holy angels to assist Her and produce sweet harmony for their incarnate God, and Her suffering Child.
The ministers of the Most High obeyed their Queen and Lady and in audible voices they rehearsed the canticles which She Herself had composed with Her spouse in praise of the new and sweet name of JESUS.
537. With this music, so sweet that in comparison to all human music seemed but irksome discord, the Heavenly Lady entertained Her most holy Son; and sweeter yet was the harmony of Her heroic virtues, which in Her soul formed ‘choirs as of serried armies,’ as the Lord and Spouse Himself says in the Canticles.
Hard are human hearts, and more than slow and dull in recognizing and thankfully acknowledging such venerable sacraments, instituted for their eternal salvation by the immense love of the Creator and Redeemer.
O sweetest Good of my soul and of my life!
What wicked return do we make for the exquisite artifices of Thy eternal love!
O measureless charity, which is not extinguished by the overwhelming waters of our gross and faithless ingratitude!
Truly the essential Bounty and Holiness could not go to a greater length of condescension for love of us, nor exercise more exquisite love than to assume the form of a sinner (Epistle of St. Paul To The Philippians. 2,7), drawing upon His own innocence the punishment of the sin, which otherwise could never approach Him.
If men despise such an example and forget such a benefit, how can they be said to retain the use of their reason?
How can they presume upon and glory in their wisdom, prudence or judgment?
It would be prudence, ungrateful man, if thou wouldst affect thyself and weep over thy notorious dullness and darkness of mind in not being moved by such great works of thy God; since not even the Divine Love can melt the iciness of thy heart.