After four weeks of purple, penance and reflection, we’ve finally made it to Christmas! I love how Holy Mother Church gives us these days to prepare us opposed to just throwing us head-first into the grand mysteries. Slowly but surely, God had been cultivating our hearts to step out of our wonderfully ordinary lives and step into the extraordinary plans of God. Even better, the Lord gives us a personal invitation to enter into these mysteries at Christmas.
The Incarnation teaches us how God sent his only begotten Son for the salvation of the world. The Father could have chosen any way to save his people and establish his kingdom on earth. In his infinite wisdom, he sent his messenger, Gabriel, to announce the conception of the Messiah to a poor peasant girl in Nazareth. After being miraculously conceived by the Spirit, Jesus developed in the womb like all of us. In the first month his tiny heart began to beat. By three months his tiny little toes and fingers were made. In her fifth month of pregnancy, Mary felt her child moving around and kicking in her immaculate body. And after nine months, the King of the Universe was born as a child on a cold winter night in a dirty barn. Although there is not an abundance to pull from in the Gospel Nativity narratives, there is so much mystery to unwrap in the infancy of Christ.
Later in his earthly ministry, Jesus tells us how important children are: “‘Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.’ Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them” (Mk 10:14-16).
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The kingdom of God isn’t just something to be attained in the distant future after our time on earth. The kingdom of God is here and now by grace. If being a child is essential to enter this kingdom, we ought to pay special attention to it. If God sent his only begotten Son into the world as a child, we ought to pay special attention to him. But let’s be clear: God doesn’t point to children because of their age. God points to children because of their perspective.
By baptism, we become adopted sons and daughters of God. In the ancient world, there was no difference between biological children and adopted children. Knowing this, we can be confident that God truly desires to care for us, loving us in a way that we have never known before. This Christmas, we can use the mystery of the Incarnation and the Christ Child to remind us to enter into the mystery that we are true children of our heavenly Father.
Find wonder of God
Children are in awe of new discoveries, so they are naturally curious toward the good and the beautiful. This incredible sense of wonder leads the young one to delight in creation and their creators. Children love to play. Using their imagination, taking the ordinary and bringing it to life. A doll is not just stuffed stitching. In the mind of a child, it is a friend with a name and unique personality.
Relationship with God is an exciting adventure! When we enter into prayer like a child, it becomes our playtime. We develop an awe in God’s majesty and his mighty deeds. We use our Chrtistian imagination to pretend like we are inserted into the scenes of Scripture and interact with Jesus as our best friend.
Depend on God for everything
A child trusts their mom or dad at their word and lacks any suspicion or doubt. What kind of parent would deceive an innocent child (cf. Mt 7:11)? Children completely depend on their parents with their whole life. Have you ever seen a child fall and scrape their elbow? Who do they run to, crying out for help? Children do not hide their wounds, but go to their parents to tell them exactly where it hurts.
If we take on the likeness of a child, we too learn how to trust in God and completely depend on his power alone. When we are hurt — physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually — who do you run to? God is the most trustworthy physician, psychologist, lover and spiritual director. He created you and knows you better than anyone on the planet. When things go wrong, he has the remedy readily available for you. All you have to do is go to him.
Since children depend on everything from their parents, they own virtually nothing. Everything is given freely to them out of love, and anything can be taken away according to the rule of the parent. In their nothingness, they rely on their parents and trust they will provide for them: a place to sleep, food to eat, and clothes to wear (cf. Mt 6:25-32). A child who recognizes what little he or she has rejoices in little gifts. Since children are meek and simple, they are born into one primary identity — a son or daughter. Knowing who they really are, they are naturally unconcerned with trying to be something else and live content knowing they are loved and cared for. A baby in a room full of adults can offer little. How can a child ever return the favor to a parent who laid down their lives in order that the child could have it? It can only offer delight and love to the parent.
A humble soul realizes its nothingness before God. Everything is a gift from him who is love. We owe God everything we have, but who can repay the price of redemption in full? (Hint: Only God himself on the cross!) Humility is not shunning our talents and gifts, but humility recognizes their sole source, praising him for his goodness. But humility also allows us to clearly see our weaknesses. In giving our weaknesses to Christ, we are made strong by him.
Have confidence that you are a beloved child, and your heavenly Father has a vast kingdom awaiting you! By using our Christian imagination, we can meditate on how the Christ child entered into the world with these qualities, being our ultimate model and showing us the way.