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제목 On Spiritual Childhood (Christmas Midnight 2016)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2016-12-25







On Spiritual Childhood (Christmas Midnight 2016)


My dear brethren,


Christmas is the feast of the little ones, not merely the young ones, but all of us, because "unless we be converted and become as little children, we shall not enter into the Kingdom of God" (Mt. 18:3). If the Infinite God became a little child, how much more should we become little children. “Man was made in the image of God, that his ways also might be an imitation of the ways of his Maker. This is the natural, real, and highest dignity to which we are capable of attaining, that the goodness of the Divine nature should have a reflection in us, as in a glass. As a mean of reaching this dignity, we are daily offered the grace of our Saviour, for as in the first Adam all men are fallen, so in the Second Adam can all men be raised up again” . We are thus raised up again, when we humble ourselves and become little like the Child Jesus.


God created all things and knows all things, including each one of us: He cares for all, not only for the universe as a whole, but also for each one of us. And His design is most marvellous: He calls each one of us to share in His own blessedness, by beatific vision: to see God face to face! Now it seems to us that this is much above our abilities, and we would never be able to lift ourselves to such height of perfection. Yes, indeed, we are not able to lift ourselves up that high. Hence He came down, and taught us that it is by lowering ourselves, humbling ourselves, that we can get there! “Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Mt. 23:12).


 Why is it so? Because “God resists the proud, but He gives His grace to the humble” (1Pet. 5:5). The proud, who trusts in his own abilities, is a fool. Indeed, what are we? Just a little dust! "Dust thou art, and in dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3:19). The knowledge of God face to face is much above even the highest cherubim and seraphim, and so it is not in our ability to reach it. But what we can't do, God certain can do, because nothing is impossible to God! He is the Almighty. He can lift us to that height of happiness. How? In his arms, as Ste Thérèse of the Child Jesus said: she had found her "lift", her "elevator": the arms of Jesus...


Thus St Paul says: “For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the prudence of the prudent I will reject. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world, by wisdom, knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believe. For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness: But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:19-25). Sin entered into the world by pride, and our Lord Jesus Christ redeemed us by his humility, from His birth in a crib to the Sacrifice on the Cross.


And St Paul continues: “But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong. And the base things of the world, and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen, and things that are not, that he might bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his sight. But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Cor. 1:27-30). Who is weaker than a new-born baby? And yet, this baby is “the Saviour, Christ the Lord” as the Angels said to the shepherds: “For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David” (Lk. 2:11).


The very choice of simple shepherds, of a simple carpenter and his humble spouse manifests this Divine Providence. And it is most admirable, as our Lord Himself said: “Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones. Yea, Father; for so hath it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me by my Father. And no one knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him. Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light” (Mt. 11:25-30).


It has pleased the most Holy Trinity to reveal these most beautiful mysteries to simple souls, to the little ones, to the humble ones. Rightly therefore, Ste Thérèse rightly sums up the whole spiritual life in the spirit of childhood. The top virtues, the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity, are indeed the virtues of little children of God.


Indeed, faith is natural to a child: a child believes his father without question. It will take him years before he can "prove" what he learns easily by faith even in his young age. And there are many truths that he learnt by faith and will never be able to prove: just to take a simple example: every adult would know that the surface of a circle is πR2 - but how many would be able to prove it? Those who proudly say “I refuse to believe what I can't prove” have it the wrong way: faith precedes understanding! If one refuses to learn what he can't prove he would never even start the learning process. Supernatural Faith is the humility of the intelligence that bows in front of God's revealed Word: it is a virtue of a child of God.


A child hopes and trust in his father. A child has no trust in his own strength: he knows that he is weak. But this is not a problem when he is in his father's arms! Last week, I was in Kota Kinabalu : there is a big mountain nearby, mount Kinabalu, which is more than 4000 meters high and one can walk up to the top. Little children, sitting on their fathers shoulders as one can sometime see, would have no fear that they too can go up to that mountain, fulling trusting in their fathers. The virtue of supernatural hope is the virtue by which we trust in God's help to lead us to Heaven: even though the goal is definitely above our strength, with God's help it is possible.


That hope also requires docility: the rebellious child, who does not follow the father's instructions, will not get to where the Father wants to lead him. His own rebellion is the cause of his perdition. Obedience to God, to God's commandments is necessary. But one would say: "it is too difficult!" St Augustine says: "God's commandments are not impossible. Do what you can, and ask the grace to become able to do what you - on your own - were not able." Prayer obtains the grace to actually obey God's commandments. Docility is also among the virtues of a child.


Note that hope has two aspects: one is the trust in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the other is the desire and longing for Heaven. Indeed, heaven is our Father’s home, it is therefore our homeland, our Father’s House. Which child would not desire to return to his father’s house?


And above all, a child loves his parents. So it is in the supernatural life: charity is the main virtue, that transforms even the simplest things. Sometimes you see a child making a drawing - that drawing has in itself no real beauty, but it is offered by the child to his father or his mother with a big smile: that smile touches so much the heart of the father or mother that they will greatly reward the child for this awful drawing! Similarly, our little actions are very imperfect in themselves, but the love with which they are offered with to God transforms them.
 
Spiritual childhood is essentially the practice of the virtue of humility, the acknowledgement of our littleness. Now that virtue lead us to adoration of the greatness of God. And we see this adoration at Christmas: when the great of the earth – those who had let themselves be touched by the grace of God, i.e. the Magi – when they arrived at Bethlehem after their year-long journey (they arrived on the 6th January of the following year), the Scriptures take great care to point out that they adored Him: “And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him; and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Mt. 2:11). We do not have such earthly treasures, but we give to the Child Jesus our heart, our love, our prayers and our mortification, signified by these treasures, and we adore Him.


Note also that “they found the child with Mary His mother”: one cannot find Jesus truly without finding Mary His mother with Him. They are inseparable, and now in heaven more than ever. Our Lord had said: "unless we be converted and become as little children, we shall not enter into the Kingdom of God" (Mt. 18:3). In order to become like little children, we do need a mother, and our Lord knew it. So He gave us His own mother: “behold thy mother” (Jn. 19:27). Devotion to our Lady is an essential part of that spiritual childhood, that is so necessary for salvation.


A child does not own anything, he needs to asks for everything. Prayer is natural for a child of God. Prayer itself is an act of humility, acknowledging our indigence, our spiritual poverty, and our needs of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. But the prayer of a child, with a big smile of love for our Heavenly Father, is very pleasing to God who lets Himself be touched by it.


Also a child wants to look at everything: contemplation, marvelling at the work of God, is also an important virtue of a child of God. Our Lady and St Joseph contemplated for years the Child Jesus; the shepherds, the Magi, also spent hours in contemplation. There are so many nice scenes at Christmas time that this blessed time is for us an occasion to renew contemplation, which prepares for the beatific vision. What we see under the veils of Faith now, we shall see face to face in the next world!


Jesus, Mary and Joseph teach us at Christmas what counts in the eyes of God, and what is of no importance. Worldly possessions, comfort, riches, welcome and popularity are of no importance. Our Lord rather chose utter poverty, complete lack of comfort, rejection from the popular inn. But the outcasts, whether poor and uneducated shepherds or foreigners such as the Magi, these were welcome. God lets Himself be found by those who search for Him: “Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found: call upon him, while he is near” (Isa. 55:6). Both the shepherds and the Magi had to go out of their way, and the richer the further they had to go… But what a reward: they found God himself, the “Word made flesh”!


May the holy Angels of Christmas obtain for us that spiritual childhood, so that we may receive from the hands of our Lady the very Son of God Himself, true God and true man, our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.


Fr. F. Laisney(sspxasia)