Friday, 16 December 2011

Believing like a child

I love the Gospel reading for this coming Sunday. It's beautiful, it's simple and it contains so much. You could sit and contemplate this passage for hours and hours and not even begin to fully tap into the mysteries within it. God tells us oh so very much about Himself, about our Lady and her life, her humility and her mission, He tells us a great deal about ourselves and our vocation, who it is we are individually called to be. And every time you hear or read it you come across something new, something wonderful...

"The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

"Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." 
Then the angel departed from her."
I love this reading in the context of Advent not only because it gets me all excited for Christmas (I love Christmas!) and the birth of Jesus (my nativity looks very lonely without a baby in the crib) but because through this God is, very obviously, guiding us through this season of preparation. In this last week before the big day we are reminded how we are called to turn back, to be reborn again as little children, just like Christ in the manger. To follow Him anew at this early stage of the Church's year with the wide-eyed innocence of a little child, to grow and walk with Him, to let go of the past and to listen and learn about the life of Christ, the model for all our lives, all over again.

On the first Sunday of Advent I was moved at the 9am Mass when, at the start of his homily, Fr. Richard got the children to come and sit on the steps of the Sanctuary. There he preached in a profound and simple way, in language they could understand, on what Advent means, what it means to us as Catholics. They all sat there, spell-bound (albeit the younger ones slightly fidgety), eagerly hearing what he had to say (and all of them desperate to be the one to light the first candle). It made me smile to see him doing precisely what Christ did, welcoming little children and bringing them to God.

Recently I was given a book by Celia which she was given on the day of her First Holy Communion and was, before that, given to her mother the day she made hers. It's lovely. Simply entitled "Jesus of Nazareth" (written by Mother Mary Loyola of Bar Convent and published in 1906) it gently takes the reader through the events of our Lord's life, opens them up to the young and helps them to form a deeper relationship with Him. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it as it got me to see and appreciate the words of the Gospel in a different way. It was very easy to open up and read, the language was simple but not patronising, it was written with great love and contains an innocence that only love can bring. Considering that I am one of those people who repeatedly tries to read the Bible and fails this book was a marvellous aid to help me come to know Christ through Scripture. This little book made me realise how important it is to try and become as much like a child as possible, to believe like a child, to listen and hang on to every word from God in the way a child does. Although I had initially been unsure about reading it, thinking it would be too "simplistic" I was struck by how much closer I could move toward Christ by shedding off all of my apparent knowledge and preconceptions and return to this wonderful state, leave myself open to Him and grow into the person He wants me to be.

So if you want some bedtime reading anytime soon why not have a look at this book, or one similar to it, something written for a child so that you can learn to see anew the mysteries of God.

1 comment:

  1. Total dependence on Divine Providence.

    ReplyDelete

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