Monday, December 28, 2009

Little Baby Jesus

During this period of Christmas most people's image of Jesus is of the Christ-child--the baby in the nativity. It is interesting that when we celebrate most people's birthdays, we celebrate their whole life and not recall the story of their birth. We think of them in the present, open presents, have cake and ice cream then maybe pop open a beer with them. We don't think back and ask their mom and dad to tell us stories about rushing to the hospital, did they use pain medication etc etc etc.

That being said, the birth of Jesus is what you would call "extraordinary." The virgin-birth, the angels speaking to Mary and Joseph, the travel to Bethlehem, birth in a manger are all things that are worth retelling. I think the most compelling reason to recall the story of Jesus' birth every year is to help us reinforce the fact that Jesus is fully human, as well as fully divine. Without this story, it might be easy to think that Jesus was just a man with great powers. It might be easy to think that God just took over some dude's body. By recalling the nativity, you realize that those are two heretical statements and you realize the enormity of what actually occurred.

Sit back and think, from the moment of conception, God--the creator became the created. God became flesh and went through everything that we go through in life. He was born. As an infant he had to be taken care of, nursed and changed. As a child, he had to be taught--how to eat, how to walk, how to dress. As a teen, you can picture Joseph teaching Jesus a trade--how to build things with wood.

God, the creator of the universe, became incarnate and went through all of that. Why?? Because he had a plan. A plan to reunite himself with us. A plan to be the ultimate sacrifice. Because of his love for us, God became the baby in the manger. We often think of Jesus death on the cross but there was even more to it than that. Jesus went through the same things we did, the hunger, the thirst, being tired, bumps, bruises, PUBERTY--all for us.

I think this idea is beautifully expressed in the Nativity Prayer of St Bernard of Clairvaux that I found at the Catholic Key Blog:

The Nativity Prayer of St Bernard of Clairvaux

Let Your goodness Lord appear to us, that we
made in your image, conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength
we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder
nor is it fitting for us to try.
But Your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love
Caress us with Your tiny hands,
embrace us with Your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.

Finally, as an aside--can't they make a nativity scene with a real infant? Why does the little Baby Jesus always have to be about 25 lbs??


  1. Food for thought, I have never thought of Christmas and Jesus's birthday without imagining the baby in the manger....somehow it doesn't seem the same to think of him at Christmas as a 33 year old carpentar....:-) Hugs

  2. I suppose it is heretical to say this, Jamie, but I find the incarnation more amazing in some respects than the resurrection. To think that the Creator of the Universe - who is able to command the moon and the stars and the sea and all that is - would be willing to come to be with us in the form of a helpless, dependent child... that blows me away.

  3. I very much agree NC Sue...yes the Reurrection is amazing...but the King of the World being born in such humble conditions is something else! Jesus is just amazing all around! It makes me take a step back and realize how lucky we are to be loved by such an awesome God!