Bossuet sur la vie de Marie

Those who grow weary of Jesus, and are ashamed to see him spend his life in such total obscurity, weary also of the Blessed Virgin and wish to attribute an endless series of miracles to her. But the evangelist tells us: “his mother kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51). The business of Jesus was to devote himself to his craft; the business of Mary was to meditate day and night on the secrets of God.

When she had lost her Son, did she change her occupation? Where do we see her appear in the Acts of the Apostles or in the tradition of the Church? She is named among those who were in the Upper Room and who received the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14), and this is all that is reported.

Was that not a sufficiently worthy occupation: to keep in her heart all that she had witnessed of her Son? And if the mysteries of his childhood were so sweet a subject of contemplation, how much more will she find to think about in the rest of his life!

Mary meditated on Jesus. Mary, who with St. John is the image of the contemplative life, remained in perpetual contemplation, melting, liquefying in love and desire. What does the Church read on the day of her glorious Assumption? The Gospel of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, seated at the Savior’s feet and listening to his words (Luke 10:39). In the treasury of the Scriptures, the Church found nothing more suitable for Mary the Mother of God and so borrowed the Gospel of divine contemplation from another Mary.

What then should be said to those who wish all manner of precious things to be declared about the Blessed Virgin? What should be said to those who are not satisfied by humble and perfect contemplation? For this is what satisfied Mary, and also Jesus himself for thirty years. The silence of the Scriptures about this divine Mother is the greatest and most eloquent of praise.

This then is the part for me: Mary “kept these things in her heart.” “One thing is needful,” and Mary chose the better part, which shall not be taken away from her (cf. Luke 10:42). Human pride, what are you complaining about with all your anxieties? That you are nothing in the world? What kind of figure was Jesus? What kind of figure was Mary? They were the wonder of the world, a spectacle for God and his angels, and what did they do? Of what consequence were they? What sort of name did they have? And you wish to be renowned and celebrated? You know neither Mary nor Jesus. You want a position that will show off your talents, not bury them. But Jesus makes use of you and gives you these talents, for which he tells us that he will demand an account. The talent that is buried with Jesus and hidden in him: is that not lovely enough in his eyes? Go. You are vain, and you are seeking in an activity that you think to be pious and useful only a pasture for your self-love.

I am stranded. I have nothing to do. My work is too lowly for me and brings me no pleasure. I want to leave it behind and to take my family with me. Did Mary and Jesus seek to advance themselves? Look at the divine carpenter with his saw and plane, his tender hands calloused by the use of those rude tools. He stands behind no podium: he would rather exercise a craft that is more humble and more necessary for life. He wields no pen and writes no beautiful words, but he stays at his work and earns his living. He works, he praises, and he blesses the will of God in his humiliation.

And what work did he do on the one occasion when he escaped from the custody of his parents and set himself to the affairs of his heavenly Father? He labored for the salvation of men. Yet you say, “I have nothing to do,” when in fact the work of the salvation of men is, in part, confided to you. Have you no enemies to reconcile? Quarrels to pacify? Differences to bring to end, so that the Savior can say, “you have gained your brother” (Matt. 18:15)? Is there no wretch who needs to be dissuaded from his complaints, blasphemy, and despair? And should all of these works be taken away from you, will you not still have the work of your own salvation, which for each one of us truly is a work of God? Go to the Temple, if necessary, run away from your mother and father, renounce flesh and blood, and say with Jesus, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day” (John 9:4). Let us tremble and humble ourselves if we think nothing in our work worthy of our time.

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