God Took Childhood on Himself
Jesus Christ experiences complete human life, from beginning to end. In His conception, birth, and childhood we meet the real God, as well as in his adulthood, death, and resurrection.
A wise man can persuade us with his words, a leader with his power, a martyr with his bravery, but a small child can move us only with his need for love. He stretches his little arms to us and calls us. God entrusts himself as a child to the hands of man and in doing so expresses his boundless trust:
“Take me to your heart, cherish me, love me!”
Adult Jesus, Master and teacher, later on invites his disciples.
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18,3)
What Does it Mean to Be Like a Child?
A child comes to the world with joy and trust in goodness. It lives in the present and does not worry about what is to come. It relies on his parents in all its needs. Its parents love it. We too have Our Father in heaven on whom we we can rely. We can live in joy in trust in His love.
To be a child means to be humble and to know your limitations. God comes to our world as a defenceless child, dependent on human care and parental love. We are also weak, powerless, and dependent on others, mainly on God. If we do not accept this truth about ourselves, we cannot be God’s children.
Jesus’ childhood teaches us to be obedient. Obedience is a guarantee that I am going in the right direction, even if I do not understand it myself. Jesus was obedient to Mary and Joseph. Sometimes however, He had to give preference to God’s voice (twelve year old Jesus in the temple, Lk 2,42-49). We also have to be obedient to those who are superior to us, who are wiser and more experienced than us. However, obedience to God comes in first place.
Little Jesus also experienced poverty and persecution (Mt 2,12-15). He did not choose it for himself and he also did not change it by performing a miracle. He managed to turn every shortcoming into blessing. In the same way that the stable in Bethlehem was lit by heaven’s light, we should also turn every shortcoming into blessing – with patience, modesty, trust, and a cheerful face.
Jesus’ childhood also talks to us about the significance of patience and waiting in our lives. Jesus did not do anything in haste. He was concealed and preparing for his mission for thirty years. Every phase in a human’s life has its significance. That is also true of our spiritual life. To be God’s child means to fulfil what God asks of you at this time. We should not stretch our arms to big, dreamed-of tasks which are for the time being beyond our strength and our control.
Thus to be like a child does not mean to be childish, naïve, unreasonable, angry and to cry when we can’t succeed at something. It means to renew in ourselves the initial joy, trust, and truthfulness.
Royal and Priestly Attributes
The statue of the Infant Jesus represents little Jesus dressed in a simple under-gown, however his arms express priestly and royal dignity. His right hand is blessing, his left hand is holding an orb. The veneration of the believers stresses the power of God’s Child by dressing him in priestly and royal robes and putting a crown on his head. We see at first sight that in the hand of little Jesus is all of God’s power and blessing. He gives the blessing in a very generous way, unlike a strict judge or a teacher. He gives his blessing like a child who pours sand from a bucket or pours water from a bath in an unworried way. We just have to stand in the stream of his mercy with all our trust.
Families and Children
The infant Jesus especially blesses children and families. He wants every family to be as full of joy as his Holy family. He wants every child to be loved and to receive all he/she needs for a good life. He blesses children to be a joy to their parents and to God. For this reason the veneration of the Infant Jesus has always been mainly focused on children. In today’s times, when children are put at the edge of interest and are deprived of their basic rights including the right to life, the veneration of the Infant Jesus has a special significance. A child who is the embodied God reminds us of the fact that children are the greatest gift to a family and to society as a whole.
The Infant Jesus in Poetry