My Jesuit meditation today, with the unknown author reminding me of true Catholic teaching, must be shared. He writes on the qualities of the Infant Jesus—purity, humility, obedience.
Reminding his readers that Christ came with the same naturally good qualities of an infant, Christ was not like every other infant.
He had the full use of His reason.
His supernaturaly goodness was the perfection of God. He is and was as an Infant, “sanctity itself”.
He had complete purity, freedom from all sin, even actual sin, “of which infancy is incapable”, as the good priest notes.
He detested all sin because of this purity, crying in the manger for us. “He offered His tears for the expiation of the world…”
We, therefore, are called thorugh virtue to become “what He was by essence.”
“..let us strengthen ourselve..in the determination of losing everything and suffering everything rather than commit a deliberate venial sin….”
The second quality is humility, “freedom from all thoughts of vanity” and although this, as Father points out, is a characteristic of all infants, the naural humility has no merit, “because the child is incapable of appreciating the dignity of man, and of feeling the humiliations he had to endure. It was not thus with the Infant Jesus. He perfectly knew and appreciated the dignity of His Person, the respect and sovereign homage that were due to Him. On the other hand, He felt vividlythe extreme humiliations He had to endure, the loneliness in which He was left, the disdain and contempt of the world. But, He did not complain, took no vengeance, accepted all and bore it all of His own choice, our of zeal for the glory of His Heavenly Father, so terribly outraged by our pride and rebellion.”
The call to become like Christ, to be like a little child, is to live in purity and humility. Accepting, “from supernatural motives humliationas of all kinds, we shall become like little children, pleasing to the Incarnate Word, the Infant Jesus.” The Jesuit then notes that this is the third degree of humility.
The last note jars with modern society, as too many parents have raised children in child-centered homes, rather than in Christ-centered homes. Children are no longer “naturally obedient”, having more and more opposition to parents because of the lack of discipline. When this good priest wrote his mediation on obedience in the late 19th century, yes, children were expected to be obedient, and their natual obedience was encouraged.
But, even the obedient child today gains not merit in natural obedience. Baby Jesus was completely different.
“…He had perfect use of reason; He was infinite wisdom; He saw and felt all the imperfections in the orders given to Him; but He did not show it even by the least gesture.He submitted to all, and in all, with a perfect conformity of jedgment and will.”
Can we do less than try for this type of obedience?
Baby Jesus was not like every other baby. Christ’s call to become like little children does not mean a setting aside of reason, but the use of every part of our humanity and soul to follow Him in perfect purity, humility and obedience.