When I pray these days I often see the Son before His incarnation. I see Him standing before the Father in glory, "Light from Light, true God from true God." He stands and offers Himself as a living sacrifice for men. The Father receives the gift and strips His Only Begotten of all that is rightly His - His glory, His power, even His memory, His intellect, His will. The Father reduces the Son to a single biological cell and entrusts that cell to a defenseless girl and her betrothed husband.
I see the baby with Mary and Joseph in the Temple. The Father looks down in watchful protection, joyfully proud, loving all who bless His Son. The Spirit hovers around the infant, stirring friends of God to see and rejoice. The Holy Trinity is present, though in a different form than it has ever known. The Father will take responsibility; the Spirit will lead. But the Son, for now, is oblivious, helpless, completely dependent on earthly men whom He does not know, and the Father whom He has forgotten. Surely the Incarnation was a kind of death within the Trinity.
Jesus did become like us, more than I have dared to consider. Being born in the flesh, I imagine that Jesus came to know the Father in ways not so different from the ways in which we come to know the Father - more purely, more perfectly, but in keeping with His nature as a man. "Growing in wisdom and stature" Jesus' intellect and will developed over time. Perhaps the Spirit even graced Jesus with memories of the "glory He shared with the Father before the world began." (John 17:5) Scripture is quiet on this point. However, we know that by the age of twelve Jesus had discovered something of His identity. He had learned to trust the Father to the extent that He was unafraid of losing Mary and Joseph. The Son's love had been awakened and this restoration must have been something like a resurrection for the Trinity - the joy of the fellowship of the Godhead returning, not yet in its fullness, but with solid hope for the future. God’s "wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory" was coming to fruition.
As Jesus came to know the Father more fully, He grew in confidence in His unique identity. The Son's identity held the key to His power and authority; thus it become the target of Satan's attack. "If you are the Son of God...." the devil prodded, "then you can....." I believe this was a real test for Jesus, just as our identity in Christ is a continual battleground for us.
But there was one more test to come; yet another stripping of the Son. This stripping was also voluntary, though it did not appear so to our eyes. This stripping came at the hands of cruel, violent men rather than the hands of a loving Father. But it was endured for the Father Jesus had come to know and trust, and for the men whom He had come to love. Having once surrendered Himself to the helplessness and forgetfulness of the womb, the Son again surrendered His will, His power, His intellect, His life and embraced the tomb.
There is a daring prayer written by Ignatius Loyola which I have always wanted to pray wholeheartedly, but it just seemed beyond my ability, and in some ways puzzling. The prayer is known as the Suscipe after its first word in Latin.
Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.
As I consider these words now, I realize that this is the prayer which Jesus lived at the Incarnation and once again at the Passion. He gave the Father, whom He knew could be trusted, all His liberty, His memory, His understanding and His entire will. That fills me with wonder and hope, for the Father loves me too, and the more I come to know this, the more closely I can follow Jesus. Even if I should lose my memory of my Lord, He will never forget me Jesus knows His sheep as the Father knows the Son. (John 10:15) I can trust Him as He trusted the Father. He is the Good Shepherd who never leads where He has not walked before.
And so, Father, I ask you...
Suscipe, Domine, universam mean libertatem
Accipe memoriam, intellectum atque voluntatem omnem.