During the Christmas rush while being jostled by last minute shoppers, one might hear someone say, “Christmas is for kids.” The tone of voice and the accompanying facial expression betray either obvious pleasure or weary disgust. I once attended a liturgy during which the latter response was expressed by someone at the prayers of the faithful: “. . . that we do not compromise Christianity by thinking Christ came to be coddled as a child instead of an adult who became incarnate in order to be crucified for us . . . ” At the time I was impressed by the stark truth behind the petition. At the same time, I experienced having cold water poured over warm, cuddly feelings. Today, though still agreeing with the petitioner, I have come to recognize and appreciate the value of and even the similarity of those aspects of Christmas which have something in them both of Christian childhood and adulthood. One of the antiphons during our Advent liturgy describes God’s Wisdom as coming to rule us with gentle love. At times, is it not true that gentle wisdom can be more powerful than mighty wisdom? Children have been known to work miracles in homes where there is discord and many parents attest that the gentle pull their children have on their heart-strings is the strongest force of all in keeping their family together. Jesus, too, as a weak child, is capable of ruling us mightily, and as an adult it is through His crucifixion, especially in the weakness of his crucifixion, that he exercises most fully his power over us. It is because of this that we can assert with St. Paul the lesson inherent in our own Christian experience, “for when I am weak then I am powerful” (2 Cor. 12:10). Christmas, then, is both for “kids” and for adult Christians.
—Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB
|Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.