Brookline Carmel Bulletin
December 25, 1960
For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and princely authority is upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9: 6)
When we look upon the Infant Jesus lying in His humble bed of hay, we cannot help wondering if this is really He whom Isaiah has so stirringly extolled. How helpless He is! How utterly dependent! How different the newly born Jesus from the Jesus we see going about His public ministry! Here we have a tiny infant, ‘mewling and puking’ in His mother’s arms; there a mature, purposeful, confident Jesus, fully aware of His dignity as Son of God and Son of Man, keenly aware of His Vocation as Saviour, Redeemer, High Priest, clearly foreseeing His Passion and Death. What masterful self-control and disdain of difficulties He displays as He goes about uttering incomparable gems of wisdom, revealing flashes of almighty power, drawing hearts to Himself by His kindness and gentleness of manner, spreading joy with the good news of the approaching kingdom, giving courage to the poor and the sinners as he makes known the relatively easy ‘entrance requirements’. Indeed, a world of difference exists between that lovable bundle of pure potential, the Baby Jesus, and the perfectly mature Jesus in Whom all promise has been realized.
Of the interim period, of the transition that led Him from one extreme to the other we know precious little. This is unfortunate, because it was during that time that Mary and Joseph made their greatest contribution to the Divine Plan of Redemption. It is to them that we are indebted that Jesus was so perfectly suited, humanly speaking, to fulfill His role as the Messiah. To them was entrusted the work of overseeing His development as a human being. Jesus differed not at all from other Jewish children His contemporaries in the externals of His upbringing. Though the highest part of His soul was always united to the Godhead, though He enjoyed at every moment of His existence the Beatific Vision, Jesus still awakened gradually to the world of sensation and thought, as does every normal child. From Mary and Joseph, then, He learned to walk, to talk, to behave according to the conventions of their culture and social structure. They educated Him; they steeped Him in the noblest and finest traditions of their race. They made of Him a man of His times and His generation. He spoke their language; He understood their mentality; He was one with His contemporaries, in perfect rapport. The training given Him by Joseph and Mary made Him a perfect instrument, from the human point of view, of the Divine Will.
We do not distort the truth when we emphasize how necessary it was that Jesus be an adult in order to fulfill His Vocation, to fulfill the offices hinted at in the line of Isaiah quoted above. Had Jesus been destroyed by Herod, the Justice of God would surely have been satisfied, a treasury of graces would have been established, but there would have been no way by which we might profit by it. To be the light of the world, Jesus would have to teach. To be our Way, He would have to set us an adult example. To be the Prince of Peace He would have to persuade us to accept Him unconditionally. A child could not have done all this. Besides, He would have to found a Church, to institute Sacraments, to ordain a Priesthood. The prudence, judgment and wisdom of a mature man was required.
And so, these considerations point to one thing, the importance of the Family and Family Life in God’s scheme of things. Christmas is a family feast. God has willed that the Saviour should spring from within a family. Family life is thereby given added dignity and sanctity. God chooses His servants of the future from today’s crop of babies. That these children respond to the call of God and be prepared to carry out His Will depends upon the training and education given them by their parents. Jesus cannot be a Liberator, a Light to the world, the Joy of the world and the Prince of Peace unless He resides in the hearts and minds of men. All the world loves a child, but a child saint can’t begin to compare with a mature, fully developed saint, a saint fully aware of his dignity as God’s child, conscious of his vocation ‘to follow Christ; who, perfectly conscious of his freedom and autonomy, totally dedicates himself to the will of God. How much more pleasing to God is the commitment of a mature adult.
God’s wisdom is evident here, too. He has thus allowed the human race to assist in its own redemption. Jesus is the unique source of salvation. All graces come through Him. But Jesus comes from the human race, from within a family. Likewise, all graces come to us through the Church. But the Church too springs from the family.
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