Parents, how many times have you imagined what your children first looked like? Did you ever think of how small and vulnerable they were when they were born as tiny babies before you came to get them? Every day, I see how fragile human life is. When I am working at the home for babies with complex medical needs, I see the little faces of some who have just barely made it. I also see the faces and tiny hands of others whose future is uncertain. There have even been those for whom the struggle was too hard.
As Christmas day approaches us, I’m puzzled by the great paradox that we celebrate every year. I look at a manger scene or reflect on the Christmas Gospel and all at the same time, the Incarnation makes perfect sense and yet, who could have imagined such a concept? No one of us, for sure.
The perfect sense that it makes is this. A child is vulnerable, completely dependent upon others, his parents, care takers. The humble child places before us a choice. The child himself is inviting. Either we respond with fear and reject the invitation or we are able to feel pity for the child and respond with responsibility, and love. We see these two choices posed by every child born in this world. The parents make a choice. While every situation is neither black nor white, for some orphans, the former choice is made.
So too, Christ comes into the world bearing our human frailty and he presents us with a choice. He is inviting and our response can be one of two choices.
The Father to the Son and the Father to us all always chooses the latter. He sees us with tender pity and for all time pours out His love. Thus He sent His son to be one like us. In a strange twist of events, He shows us ourselves in His son lying in a manger. There lies our fragility, our total dependency and vulnerability. Our joy springs from the consolation that God always chooses love.
This season that we celebrate may strike adoptees differently. Definitely, we all adore and identify with the Christ child, as we should, for he took on our human nature. But His Father is the One who says, “I will not leave you orphans.” Thus, His purpose; once, we were lost to sin, orphans of darkness. But truly, He sent His son to rescue us all.
He has not left those who are abandoned as orphans. Some He has given to others through adoption; the others, we are sure that He provides for. I wrestle with this certainty but can confidently write now. I dared to asked Him, “What about the ones who aren’t adopted by families? And what about the ones who die as infants? Have you not left them?” He has not. Those who have died, He is with. Those who have seemingly nothing, He is close to.
The humility of God is far more than we’d ever known. An infinite capacity, actually; in perfect humility he came as an infant to live among us so that He might save us. He has shown to what lengths He would go. The boundaries of His love are limitless.
The invitation is for us all.