This morning, when I was playing with my one-year-old in his room, I noticed that St. Joseph was hiding under his crib and Mary was reading his book about colors. Poor baby Jesus has been MIA for a few days now, and I refuse to put away the Crèche until I can put them all away together, as one happy Holy Family (even if it means that our Christmas decorations are not yet put away and we’re nearing the middle of February). With Jesus, Mary, and Joseph all having “wandered off,” I was plagued by the very burning question: “who is in the manger??” I walked into the living room to find my answer: a dinosaur (a Hesperosaurus to be precise; being the mother of a little boy is a very educational experience). One of the little one’s very favorite toys to carry around the house has taken up residence in the stable. Perhaps it was his offering when taking each member of the Holy Family to meet his toys. Whatever his reasons, and I’m sure they were good ones; it made me think about the humility of God and the awesomeness of the good and loving God we believe in.
I love that our God gets what it is to be human because He became human out of love for us. He knows what it is to be that little boy who yells out “Dada” to the priest during the Consecration at Mass (he’s still figuring out the limitations of the few words he knows). He knows how our minds and our hearts wander to Him… and then away from Him again… and He still wants in on the relationship. He doesn’t mind the images of His loved ones being dragged around the house by a little boy who loves Him so much but just doesn’t yet know how to show it appropriately. In fact, I think it just might delight Him.
Sometimes, when our little man is being particularly vocal at Mass, I wonder what it must look like from the priest’s perspective. Then, especially during the Consecration – that moment where Heaven and earth are joined, Jesus comes down to be united with us in such an intimate way – I wonder what it must look like from Jesus’ perspective. Here He is, in the fullness of His glory, ready to pour out His body, blood, soul, and divinity for us to receive – the greatest of gifts, and what does He find? Well, in our pew, He would generally find a little boy throwing toys at the reverent people kneeling behind us or excitedly reaching for the altar, as if he is the only one in Church who really knows what is happening before us, as we should all be so ecstatic at the reality taking place. I always giggle a little bit inside because I think that Jesus gets a kick out of it as well. After all, He did say “Let the children come to me.”
My amusement lasts only for a second before I realize that Jesus can see me too. He knows all too well how distracted I am, how my mind is wandering, how His incredible pearls have been cast before this unworthy swine. This most important moment in front of me, and what am I thinking about? The song I heard on the radio that morning? My list of tasks not yet accomplished for the day? Or, most difficult to admit: how reverent I might be appearing to others who might be watching. I think that this most crucial moment for my salvation reveals the true dynamic of our relationship: in my unworthiness is found His mercy and His humility. My sinfulness, my imperfections are not news to God – He made me, He knows me better than even I do, but He LOVES me, and this shows not my greatness but His. He still wants to reside in my heart, to be united with me in this awesome way through the Eucharist, and to use me as a tool through which He communicates His love to the world –in all my brokenness, my sinfulness, and my faults.
Only a generous God could give His perfect love to one so riddled with imperfections as I. Only a humble God could entrust the mission of His Church to the human beings around us. And only a perfectly loving God could invite the broken to strive to love perfectly, as He does, without getting impatient or frustrated at our feeble attempts. But this is our God – the God of perfect, generous, humble love – the God who doesn’t even mind sharing His Son’s stable with a tiny plastic dinosaur.