The Christ Child Dec 23, 2010 10:08:37 GMT -5
Post by mary on Dec 23, 2010 10:08:37 GMT -5
The Christ Child
To realize that God himself came down among us, to experience and to share our weakness, is to understand something that is at the heart of Incarnation. On a strictly human level it didn't make sense, because the world doesn't understand the power there is in littleness. And when Jesus came as a helpless infant, the Herods of this world were really scared because they could and cannot deal with it.
Jesus Christ, the redeemer, came as a helpless infant for three important reasons.
1. He came as a helpless child to be like one of us, so that he could speak our language, and eventually understand and forgive the sinner and feed the hungry and show us exactly what we ourselves had to do.
2. There is, however, still another reason why he came as a helpless child. He did not want to distract people from his true origin. Would he have come as a king, people would have revered him as king. He did come as a child, to point out his origin in God and from God.
During the days when God appointed Judges, the Ark of the Covenant was lost. The high priest commissioned that every artisan throughout Israel craft a new ark, one that would be a fitting and appropriate replacement for the old one. Then God himself could choose its worthy successor. Every craftsman without exception set about the task of building a truly noble and worthwhile replacement for the Ark. When the day of decision finally arrived, there lay spread before the people of Israel chests of wood and stone and bronze and silver and gold. Before each ark the high priest cast his sacred die to determine the Lord's choice. One model after the other was rejected. Then the high priest arrived at Joseph's ark. Joseph was a poor carpenter with only normal ability but deep devotion to God. His ark was painfully simple and decidedly lackluster. When the die turned up positive the people were outspokenly upset. "Does God reject the very talent he has given to these gifted craftsmen?" they shouted. Yielding to pressure, the high priest cast the die again. Again the choice fell upon Joseph's ark. He was forced to try for the third time. The result was the same. And amid cries of protest, a voice from heaven was heard to say: "With a wondrous ark", God said to the people, "my people may get lost in the beauty of their own work. With a simple and humble ark there will be nothing to distract them. Then they will think of me, and not of themselves."
The Christ Child is like this simple and humble ark. Seeing it we will be reminded of God, and not be distracted by our own ways and plans of saving ourselves.
The Christ Child reminds us also of the difference that exists between sugar and salt. When sugar is added to food, it draws attention to itself, to the sugar. When salt is added, it brings out the flavor of the food. It does not draw attention to itself, to the salt. Similarly, the Christ Child draws attention not to himself but to our need for salvation and to God's bottomless love for us. The Christ Child also reminds us that we are called to be the salt and not the sugar of the earth.
3. There may be a third reason why Jesus Christ met humanity as a child. He reminds us that like children we are to grow into sons and daughters of God, in his image and likeness. When Mary took the child to the Temple, she offered two turtle doves. According to the legend, when the priest went to offer them in sacrifice, one of them escaped and flew off. It was the one who symbolized Christ's divinity. So the bird had no place to go except heaven. However, when it got there the gates were closed. So the dove returned to earth, but the child was gone from Jerusalem and was nowhere to be found in all the Holy Land. Since the bird could not light on earth nor enter heaven, it flew to the only place where innocence exists between heaven and earth, the heart of a child.
It is said that the child immediately took on the nature of the dove, sweet, gentle and kind, in one word, Christlike. Then as the child grew, the dove continued to gather strength until it was strong enough to leave and continue its search for the Christ child. But before it did, it carried the soul of its host to the gates of heaven and sang its sweet, plaintive song. On hearing the Christ-dove the Father opened the gates of Heaven and allowed the soul to pass through.
Since then the Christ-dove continually journeys back and forth between heaven and earth, taking up residence in the heart of the innocent until the day it can find the Christ child once again.
And so let us conclude with Karl Barth and Mother Teresa. Karl Barth once said: "Anyone who has really understood that God became human, can never speak and act in an inhuman way." Mother Teresa rephrased the same idea in an even more practical manner: "Welcome Jesus at Christmas Time," she said, "not in a cold manger of our heart ... but warm with love for one another."