Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Santo Nino

When asked by his disciples, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus called a little child and says to them: “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

We might be quick to search for the humblest man that the world has ever seen. Has such a man ever existed? Who is he that is so humble that he changed to become as a little child? Is it really possible that someone should aspire to become like a little child? I ask this because in reality, seldom will people desire to revert to childhood. Children dream of growing up some day. Growing up, we dread the time when we should revert to a second childhood because such would mean giving up the freedom that adulthood brings. Who would give up the independence, confidence, and power that adulthood brings?

However, when we look at the Sto. Niño, we realize that the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the Lord himself. He, who is almighty, humbled himself to become a little child. The Word of God, through whom and for whom all things were made, became small – small enough to fit into a manger. He who commands all things subjects himself to the authority of Joseph and Mary. He who feeds the birds of the air and who cloaks the lilies of the field allowed himself to be fed and clothed by the earnings of a carpenter. He who knows all things grew in wisdom and in age. He became a little child, so that the word can be grasped by us. “The Lord made his word short, he abbreviated it.” (Is. 10:23; Rom. 9:28)

The Incarnate Word gives to humanity “a participation, a real and intimate participation in His divine nature…it was to re-open heaven and give us a share in His eternal life, that God became man. For this Child, ‘dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily’, in Him are amassed ‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ – all the treasures of divinity. But He does not possess them for Himself alone: He has an infinite desire to communicate to us the divine life that He himself is…By allowing us to share in His condition of Son, He will make us children of God…What Christ is by nature, that is Son of God, we shall be by grace. The Word Incarnate, the Son of God made man, became the author of our divine begetting: ‘The Savior of the world, who was born on this day, is the author of our heavenly birth.’” (Blessed Columba Marmion, Christ in His Mysteries, 138-139.)

Christ enables us to be part of the Kingdom of heaven not simply by presenting His childhood as a model, an example to follow. His Childhood itself, the humility of His Incarnation, is itself the means by which we share in His Divine life. The humble flesh that He assumed is itself the instrument of our salvation. The mystery of the Incarnation transforms us. The mystery of His Childhood restores to us that filiation in grace which sin took away from us. Pride, refusal to obey and covetousness made us lose the divine life. The humility, obedience, and purity of Christ’s Childhood restore to us that Divine life we lost. Not only an example was given to us but rather, the very mystery of His Childhood was itself the means of our transformation into the Divine life. Rightfully did the Holy Father say: “It is important to rescue this Christmas time from an overly moralistic and sentimental mask. The celebration of Christmas does not propose to us only examples to imitate, such as the humility and poverty of the Lord, and his benevolence and love for men; but it is rather an invitation to allow oneself to be totally transformed by him who entered into our flesh...” (Benedict XVI, Wednesday Address, 5 January 2011.)

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