Catholic fine art
Unless you become like a child
«Unless You Become Like Little Children…»(1)
Sermon by Father Jérôme de la Résurrection, o.d.m.
To truly understand the mystery of Christmas, we must descend, lower ourselves, make ourselves little… But when God invites us to descend, unfortunately we rebel and become embittered against His holy Will because we do not understand the mystery of the Manger.
At Christmas, those who do not grasp the mystery of God becoming a little Child think only of celebrating in order to forget their problems, celebrations in which there will be as much pleasure as possible, in which there will be no room for suffering, no room for an act of humility, because everyone will want to shine, be somebody and make the most of life.
Is this how it is for us too, my brothers and sisters? Is Christmas an occasion for us to humble ourselves? Is it an occasion to lower ourselves interiorly, recognize ourselves for what we are before God, that is, poor beggars?
Christmas is the feast of the poor. Do we really recognize that we are poor before Jesus? Or rather do we not often regard ourselves as creatures whom God should shower with favors and graces?… creatures to whom everything is due?
During this Christmas season, Jesus invites us to descend with Him to the Manger at Bethlehem, like little children, very little children, very little – so little that no one will be able to recognize us, just as the Infant Jesus, the Son of God, was not recognizable. Truly, the Son of God hid Himself well. All the great ones of this world, and you might say practically all of humanity, were unaware of the sublime mystery that was happening in the Manger at Bethlehem. Yet it was the greatest event in all of History that was taking place: God becoming a Child out of love for His creatures.
By that gesture, Jesus wanted to teach us a lesson of humility. He made Himself little by the Will of His Father. My brothers and sisters, are we also willing to accept to become little, to become people who are easy for God to manipulate? That is what it means to make yourself little: to be flexible in the hands of God, let Him do what He wants with us. Look at very little children, for example: we do what we want with them; they are at our mercy, so to speak.
Do we also want to be at God’s mercy? Do we accept to be little, hidden, counted as nothing? Or rather do we want to be regarded as important people who deserve something? Is that not our problem, to think that on earth we are important people to whom others owe respect and consideration? We expect respect from our fellow men, we expect consideration, we want to increase and be somebody in the eyes of men and even in the eyes of God. We forget that Jesus, our infinitely great and perfect God, chose abjection, abasement, scorn.
Are we willing to walk in the footsteps of our divine Master? Do we accept to go down to the Manger, poor, stripped, without anything? Do we accept to appear before God and say, “Lord, here I am, just as I am: a poor, miserable person who is deserving of contempt. So many times, Lord, have I offended You. So many times have I turned away from Your holy Will. So many times have You called to Me, and so many times have I refused.”
My brothers and sisters, that is the mystery of Christmas: God is inviting us not to grow but to become little; not to make a success of our life according to human views, but to lead a life of annihilation, a humble life, hidden from the eyes of everyone, scorned by the world, far from all commotion. Just like Jesus when He was on earth…
When we contemplate the beautiful mystery of the Infant Jesus, we have the entire mystery of the Redemption before our eyes: the Manger and Calvary. Jesus descended to be lifted up afterwards. That is where we must go: down to the Manger in order to go up to Calvary, and then to the Resurrection. That is our whole life, my brothers and sisters. Now, we must carry out this program with all our human weakness, recognizing ourselves as poor, fallen creatures, always inclined to offend God, but also always strengthened by His grace, if we ask for it and correspond to it. Is it not true, my brothers and sisters, that we are far readier to offend God than we are to humble ourselves before Him? Are we not always more inclined to deny Jesus than to recognize Him in the Manger and follow Him? But grace is there. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me,(2) said Saint Paul.