December 20, 2015

Why God Became a Baby

The Nativity of our LordThe following reflection by Father Michael Najim (posted with permission) reminds us of the tender compassion of our God, who came to us as a helpless infant to show us the way to truth and eternal life. Let us not forget that when Christ comes again in glory, it will be as King of the universe and a just Judge. 

Fr. Michael Najim is a priest serving the Diocese of Providence, RI. He is currently, Director of Spiritual Formation at Our Lady of Providence Seminary and chaplain at La Salle Academy (a Catholic high school). Visit his blog, Live Holiness, for more such excellent content.
A God who became so small could only be mercy and love. 
— St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Last Monday evening I was blessed to visit Amy and Paul and their newborn baby boy, Joseph, at the hospital.  It was last April when I celebrated Amy and Paul’s wedding, and it’s been a joy seeing them eagerly anticipate the arrival of Joseph.  A few weeks ago they’d asked me if I’d be willing to bless them and little Joseph before they left the hospital.  Of course, I was happy to do so.

When I arrived they made sure little Joseph was wrapped tightly in his blanket and then they placed him in my arms.  Amazing!  He was as light as a feather and his face was like that of an angel’s.  His little eyes were open, and if babies could talk he probably would have said, “Who is this guy that’s holding me?  Doesn’t look familiar to me in my one-day-old world.”  I was mesmerized as I cradled him in my arms and looked into his eyes.  I started talking to him about his parents.  I told him how blessed he was to have them and that I was happy he took after his mother [a compliment to Amy and a humorous jab to Paul].

Little babies, especially newborns, have a way of taking us out of ourselves, of making us forget about our cares and problems.  They captivate us and lift our spirits.  Our hearts surge with love when we hold them in our arms.  It is a deeply spiritual experience.

For a moment, think of the feelings you’ve had when you’ve held a newborn baby.  Now, think about the fact that God became a newborn.  On that holy night in a stable in Bethlehem Mary and Joseph held the Christ child in their arms. They gazed into his eyes.  They felt his soft skin and heard his first cries.  They were mesmerized.

God could have chosen to come to us in another way.  He could have come majestically on the clouds, appearing in all his glory (and He will when He comes again).  But, in His wisdom, He chose to come to us humbly, as a little baby.

But why did God come to us as a baby?  Because He wants us to have confidence in His love and to be fearless in approaching Him.  That’s what we do with babies, isn’t it?  We want to draw close to them, to look into their eyes, to touch their soft cheeks, to hold and rock them. They elicit in us sentiments of love, tenderness, and affection.  God became man in Jesus Christ so that we could draw close to Him.  He took the initiative.  He appeared as a little baby so that our hearts would be filled with deep love and affection for Him.  He wants us to know that He is approachable, that He is lovable, that He is gentle.

As we approach the great Solemnity of Christmas we are invited to draw very close to Jesus, to contemplate Him in the manger. In your meditation, take Him out of the manger and hold Him in your arms.  Touch and kiss His cheeks.  Look at His face.  It is the face of God. Are you afraid of a God who became so little that you could hold Him?  Do you really believe that He doesn’t love you or that He wants to remain distant from you?  No!  As St. Therese said, "A God who became so small could only be mercy and love."

Let your heart be filled with love and affection for the Lord.  He is not distant from us.  He is Emmanuel, God with us.  This Christmas, open your heart and let Him give you the greatest gift: a deeper love for Him and a deeper trust in His tender care for you.

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