Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 5  Chapter  24    Verses:  263-273

263. Leaving his beloved Mother in the poor dwelling
at Nazareth, our Redeemer, without accompaniment of
any human creature, but altogether taken up with the
exercise of his most ardent charity, pursued his journey
to the Jordan, where, in the neighborhood of a town
called Bethany, otherwise called Betharaba, on the far
ther side of the river, his Precursor was preaching and
baptizing. At the first steps from the house, our
Redeemer, raising his eyes to the eternal Father, offered
up to Him anew with an infinite love, whatever He was
now about to begin for the salvation of mankind: his
labors, sorrows, passion and death of the Cross, assumed
for them in obedience to the eternal Will, the natural
grief at parting as a true and loving Son from his
Mother and at leaving her sweet company, which for
twenty-nine years He had now enjoyed. The Lord of
all creation walked alone, without show and ostentation
of human retinue. The supreme King of kings and Lord
of lords (Apoc. 19, 16), was unknown and despised by
his own vassals, vassals so much his own, that they owed
their life and preservation entirely to Him. His royal
outfit was nothing but the utmost poverty and destitu
264. As the Evangelists have passed over in silence the
doings of our Savior during his early years, and so many
other circumstances of his life, which were most real
and most worthy of our attention, and since our gross
forgetfulness is so much accustomed to pass over un
noticed what has not been written, therefore we exam
ine and consider so little the immensity of his blessings
and of his measureless love, by which He has enriched
us so much and has sought us to bind us to Him with so
many bonds of charity (Oseas. 11, 4). O eternal love
of the Onlybegotten of the Father! O delight and life
of my soul! How little known, and much less acknowl
edged, is thy most burning love? Why, O Lord and
sweet love of my soul, why dost Thou exhibit so many
artifices of love, so many watchings and sufferings for
those whom Thou needest not and who will neither
correspond nor attend to thy favors, not any more than
if they had been offered but deceit or buffoonery? O
hearts of men, more rude and fierce than that of wild
beasts ! What has hardened you so ? What detains you ?
What oppresses you and makes you so sluggish that
you will not follow thankfully in the ways of your
Benefactor? O lamentable illusion and aberration of
the human understanding! What mortal lethargy has
come over it? Who has blotted out from its memory
such infallible truths and such memorable benefits, and
even thy own true happiness ? Are we of flesh and have
we our senses? Who has made us more hard and
insensible than are the rocks and stony mountain
heights ? Why do we not wake up and recover some of
our sensibility at sight of the benefits of our Redemp
tion? At the words of a Prophet the dead bones came
to life and moved about (Ezechiel 37, 10), but we resist
the words and exertions of Him who gives life and being
to all. So defective is our earthly love; so great our
forgetfulness !
265. Accept me then, O my "Lord, and light of my
soul, accept this vile wormlet of the earth, which creeps
along in order to meet thy beautiful footsteps now begun
in search of me! By them thou raisest me to the cer
tain hope of finding in Thee the truth, the way and the
delights of eternal life. I possess nothing wherewith
to repay Thee, my Beloved, except thy own goodness
and love and the being which through them Thou hast
given me. Less than thy own Self cannot be paid for the
infinite bounty Thou hast shown to me. Thirsting
after thy love I go to meet Thee on the way: do not,
O my Lord and Master, take away or deprive her of the
vision of thy clemency, whom in her poverty Thou hast
sought so diligently and lovingly. Life of my soul and
Soul of my life, as I have not been so fortunate as to
merit to see Thee bodily in this life and in that blessed
age of thy earthly life, let me at least be a daughter of
thy holy Church, let me be a part of this thy mystical
body and the congregation of thy faithful. In this life,
so full of dangers, in this frail flesh, in these times of
calamity and tribulations, do I live ; but I cry out from its
profound depths, I sigh from the bottom of my heart
for thy infinite merits. That I shall share them, I
have the assurance of faith, the spur of hope, and the
claims of holy charity. Look down then upon thy
humble slave in order to make me thankful for such
great blessings, meek of heart, constant in love, and
entirely comfortable and pleasing to thy holy will.
266. While proceeding on his way to the Jordan, our
Savior dispensed his ancient mercies by relieving the
necessities of body and soul in many of those whom He
encountered at different places. Yet this was always
done in secret ; for before his Baptism He gave no public
token of his divine power and his exalted office. Before
appearing at the Jordan, He filled the heart of saint
John with new light and joy, which changed and elevated
his soul. Perceiving these new workings of grace within
himself, he reflected upon them full of wonder, saying:
"What mystery is this? What presentiments of happi
ness ? From the moment when I recognized the presence
of my Lord in the womb of my mother, I have not felt
such stirring of my soul as now ! Is it possible that He
is now happily come, or that the Savior of the world is
now near me ?" Upon this enlightenment of the Baptist
followed an intellectual vision, wherein he perceived with
greater clearness the mystery of the hypostatic union of
the person of the Word with the humanity and other
mysteries of the Redemption. In the fulness of this
intellectual light he gave the testimonies, which are
recorded by saint John in his Gospel and which occurred
while the Lord was in the desert and afterwards, when
He returned to the banks of the Jordan. The Evange
list mentions one of these public testimonies as happening
at the interpellation of the Jews, and the other when the
Precursor exclaimed: "Behold the lamb of God," as I
shall narrate later on (John 1, 36). Although the Bap
tist had been instructed in great mysteries, when he was
commanded to go forth to preach and baptize ; yet all of
them were manifested to him anew and with greater
clearness and abundance on this occasion, and he was
then notified that the Savior of the world was coming to
be baptized.
267. The Lord then joined the multitude and asked
Baptism of saint John as one of the rest. The Baptist
knew Him and, falling at his feet, hesitated, saying:
"I have need of being baptized, and Thou, Lord, askest
Baptism of me?" as is recorded by saint Matthew. But
the Savior answered : "Suffer it to be so now. For so it
becometh us to fulfill all justice" (Matth. 3, 14). By
thus hesitating to baptize Christ his Lord and asking Him
for Baptism instead, he gave evidence that he recognized
Him as the true Redeemer and there is no contradiction
between this and what saint John records of the Baptist
as saying to the Jews: "And I knew Him not; but He
who sent me to baptize with water said to me : He, upon
whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining,
He it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw,
and I gave testimony that this is the Son of God" (John
1, 33, 34). There is also no contradiction between these
words of saint John and those of saint Matthew; for the
testimony of heaven and the voice of the eternal Father
over Christ on the banks of the Jordan happened when
the Precursor had the vision mentioned in the preceding
paragraph. Hence he had not seen Christ bodily until
then and could, therefore, deny having known Christ, at
least in the same way as he then knew Him; for just be
cause he knew Christ then both by sight and by intellec
tual vision, he prostrated himself at the feet of the Savior.
268. When saint John had finished baptizing our Lord,
the heavens opened and the Holy Ghost descended visibly
in the form of a dove upon his head and the voice of
his Father was heard: "This is my beloved Son, in
whom I am well pleased" (Matth. 3, 17). Many of the
bystanders heard this voice, namely, those who were not
unworthy of such a wonderful favor; they also saw
the Holy Ghost descending upon the Savior. This was
the most convincing proof which could ever be given of
the Divinity of the Savior, as well on the part of the
Father, who acknowledged Him his Son, as also in
regard to the nature of the testimony given ; for without
any reserve was Christ manifested as the true God, equal
to his eternal Father in substance and in perfection. The
Father himself wished to be the first to testify to the
Divinity of Christ in order that by virtue of his testi
mony all the other witnesses might be ratified. There
was also another mystery in this voice of the eternal
Father : it was as it were a restoration of the honor of
his Son before the world and a recompense for his hav
ing thus humiliated Himself by receiving the Baptism
of the remission of sins, though He was entirely free
from fault and never could have upon Him the guilt of
sin (Heb. 7, 26).
269. This act of humiliation in receiving Baptism in
the company of those who were sinners, Christ our Re
deemer offered up to the eternal Father as an act of
acknowledgment of the inferiority of his human nature,
which, in common with all the rest of the children of
men, He had derived from Adam. By it He also insti
tuted the sacrament of Baptism, which was to wash away
the sins of the world through his merits. By thus humili
ating Himself in this baptism of sins, He sought and
obtained from the eternal Father a general pardon for
all those who were to receive it ; He freed them from the
power of the demon and of sin, and regenerated them
to a new existence, spiritual and supernatural as adopted
sons of the Most High, brethren of their Redeemer and
Lord. The past, present and future sins of men always
remaining in the sight of the eternal Father, had prevented
the effects of this Baptism ; but Christ our Lord merited
the application of this so easy and delightful remedy, so
that the eternal Father was obliged to accept it in justice
as a complete satisfaction according to all the require
ments of his equity. Christ was also not deterred from
thus securing this remedy by his foreknowledge of the
abuse of holy Baptism by so many mortals in all ages
and of its neglect by innumerable others. All these im
pediments and hindrances Christ our Lord removed by
satisfying for their offenses, humiliating Himself and
assuming the form of a sinner in his Baptism (Rom. 8,
3). This is the meaning of the words : suffer it to be so
now for so it becometh us to fulfill all justice. Then in
order to honor the incarnate Word and in recompense
for his humiliation, and in order to approve of Baptism
and establish its wonderful efficacy, the eternal Father
gave forth his voice and the Holy Ghost descended.
Thus was Christ proclaimed as the true Son of God, and
all three Persons of the Holy Trinity ratified the sacra
mental rite of Baptism.
270. The great Baptist was the one who reaped the
greatest fruit from these wonders of holy Baptism;
for he not only baptized his Redeemer and Master, saw
the Holy Ghost and the celestial light descending upon
the Lord together with innumerable angels, heard the
voice of the Father and saw many other mysteries by
divine revelation: but besides all this, he himself was
baptized by the Redeemer. The Gospel indeed says no
more than that he asked for it, but at the same time it
also does not say that it was denied him ; for, without a
doubt, Christ after his own Baptism, conferred it also on
his Precursor and Baptist. It was He that instituted this
Sacrament afterwards as He made it a general law and
enjoined the public ministration of it upon the Apostles
after the Resurrection. As I shall relate later on, it was
also the Lord who baptized his most holy Mother before
its general promulgation, and He, on that occasion,
established the form in which Baptism was to be admin
istered. These facts were made known to me, and also
that saint John was the first-fruit of the Baptism of
Christ our Lord and of the new Church, which He
founded in this Sacrament. Through it the Baptist re
ceived the character of a Christian together with a great
plenitude of grace, since he had not upon him original
sin; for he had been justified by the Redeemer before he
was born, as was said in its place. By the answer of the
Savior : "Suffer it to be so now, that all justice be ful
filled," He did not refuse, but He deferred saint John s
Baptism until He himself should have been baptized and
have fulfilled the requirements of God s justice. Imme
diately after his own Baptism He baptized saint John,
gave him his blessing, and betook Himself to the desert.
271. Let us return now to the main subject of this
history, namely, to the occupations of our great Queen
and Lady. As soon as her most holy Son was baptized,
although She knew by the divine light of his movements,
the holy angels who had attended upon their Lord
brought Her intelligence of all that had happened at the
Jordan; they were those that carried the ensigns or
shields of the passion of the Savior, as described in the
first part. To celebrate all these mysteries of Christ s
Baptism and the public proclamation of his Divinity, the
most prudent Mother composed new hymns and canticles
of praise and of incomparable thanksgiving to the Most
High and to the incarnate Word. All his actions of
humility and prayers She imitated, exerting Herself
by many acts of her own to accompany and follow Him
in all of them. With ardent charity She interceded for
men, that they might profit by the sacrament of Bap
tism and that it might be administered all over the world.
In addition to these prayers and hymns of thanksgiving,
She asked the heavenly courtiers to help Her in magni
fying her most holy Son for having thus humiliated Him
self in receiving Baptism at the hands of one of his
272. My daughter, since in recounting to thee the
works of my most holy Son I so often remind thee how
thankfully I appreciated them, thou canst understand
how pleasing to the Most High is the faithful correspond
ence on thy part, and the great mysteries of his blessings
connected with it. Thou art poor in the house of the
Lord, a sinner, insignificant and useless as dust; yet I
ask thee to assume the duty of rendering ceaseless thanks
for all that the incarnate Word has done for the sons of
Adam and for establishing the holy and immaculate, the
powerful and perfect law for their salvation. Especially
shouldst thou be thankful for the institution of Baptism
by which He frees men from the tyranny of the devil,
fills them with grace, clothes them with justice and assists
them to sin no more. This is indeed a duty incumbent
upon all men in common; but since creatures neglect it
almost entirely, I enjoin thee to give thanks for all of
them, as if thou alone wert responsible for them. Thou
art bound to the Lord for other things to special thank
fulness, because He has shown Himself so generous to
none among other nations as He has with thee. In the
foundation of his holy law and of his Sacraments thou
wert present in his memory ; He called and chose thee as
a daughter of his Church, proposing to nourish thee by
his own blood with infinite love.
273. And if the Author of grace, my most holy Son,
as a prudent and wise Artificer, in order to found his
evangelical Church and lay its first foundations in the
sacrament of Baptism, humiliated Himself, prayed and
fulfilled all justice, acknowledging the inferiority of his
human nature; and if, though at the same time God and
man, He hesitated not to lower Himself to the nothing
ness of which his purest soul was created and his human
being formed: how much must thou humiliate thyself,
who hast committed sins and art less than the dust and
despicable ashes? Confess that in justice thou meritest
only punishment, the persecution and wrath of all the
creatures ; that none of the mortals who has offended his
Creator and Redeemer can say in truth that any injustice
or offense is done to them if all the tribulations and afflic
tions of the world from its beginning to its end were to
fall upon them. Since all sinned in Adam (I Cor. 15,
22), how deeply should they humiliate themselves when
the hand of the Lord visits them ? (Job 19,21). If thou
shouldst suffer all the afflictions of men with the utmost
resignation and at the same time wouldst fulfill all that
I enjoin upon thee by my teachings and exhortations with
the greatest fidelity, thou nevertheless must esteem thy
self as a useless and unprofitable servant (Luke 17, 10).
How much then must thou humiliate thyself when thou
failest so much in thy duty and in the return due to all
the blessings received from God? As I desire thee to
make a proper return both for thyself and for others,
think well how much thou art obliged to annihilate thy
self to the very dust, not offering any resistance, nor ever
being satisfied until the Most High receive thee as his
daughter and accept thee as such in his own presence
and in the celestial vision of the triumphant Jerusalem.
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