As Christians, we are very familiar with Advent as a season of waiting, but really, our whole life is, essentially, a long season of waiting. Particularly, we wait for the last Advent—the last coming of Christ at the end of time. Every Advent gives us the opportunity to pause, and very intentionally focus on what we should be doing every day of our lives—preparing for the coming of Jesus Christ. How are we spending our time in waiting?
Let’s talk about the characters of the nativity, since there is really a lifetime’s worth of study and beauty that we can glean from diving deeper into the mystery of the great Christmas narrative through the experiences of the dynamic characters in play—Joseph and Mary, the Infant Jesus, the shepherds, the angels, the magi, and, as a whole, the Holy Family. The characters of the nativity can each teach us lessons for living our own lives in preparation for Christ’s coming this December, as well as for our own death and Christ’s coming at the end of time.
In this article, I will explore some of the lessons for living from the Infant Jesus.
The Characters of the Nativity and Their Lessons for Living—The Infant Jesus: The Blessedness of Littleness and Joy
God could have entered our world in any way He wanted to. But He chose to come in the form of a newborn child. No one could have guessed that the Lord of the whole universe would be introduced to us in a physical way in a crib, rather than on a throne.
And so we learn from the Infant Jesus this first lesson: the blessedness of littleness.
Chapter 4 in the Book of Wisdom says, “For old age is not honored for length of time, or measured by number of years; but understanding is gray hair for anyone, and a blameless life is ripe old age…Being perfected in a short time, they fulfilled long years; for their souls were pleasing to the Lord…” (Wisdom 4:8-9, 13)
I’ll quote Venerable Fulton Sheen again, who writes, “when Wisdom [here meaning Wisdom personified in Jesus] came to earth he was a child, and when Wise Men came to Wisdom they were told to be like children. Christmas, then, is the coronation of childhood, the glorification of the young whose hearts are simple, the proclamation to aging hearts that the world need not despair and die, because the Fountain of Youth has come into it…turn time backward, make old things young again.”
Being a young mother, I am very often reminded of this lesson of the blessedness of littleness. The way my toddler son so beautifully and simply talks to Jesus throughout the day, the way he is enraptured by icons and stories about Christ, the way he loves “Mama Mary” so dearly…reminds me to think about how important it is for me to approach Jesus, as the Gospels tell us to approach him, with the innocence and purity of a child’s faith. “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). As we age, our faith can have periods of stagnancy and ‘oldness.’ Advent is a crucial moment in time to “turn backward,” making our faith in Christ young again.
One more lesson we will explore from the Infant Jesus: Joy.
Lest we forget, JESUS IS the Joy to the world. Why do we possess such joy at Christ’s coming? Precisely because He came to make us sharers in His divine nature. The Son of God became man so that we children of men can learn to become sons and daughters of God. Jesus comes as a baby with a mission to save the world. To save each and every one of us. To save you. Christmas is all about joy, the joy that the Infant Jesus brings into each and every one of our hearts by way of his redeeming, personal, intense love for me and for you.
This article is the sixth in a series.
Check out Katie Warner’s exciting new book, Head and Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family (Emmaus Road Publishing, August 2015).
Here’s what some other Catholic authors and leaders are saying about Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family, foreword by Bishop James Conley (Emmaus Road Publishing):
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