We tend to think of Jesus’ childhood as something of a nice prelude to his adult work. We relegate it to an almost ‘sweet phase’ of his life, perhaps because of the sentiments that are attached to it at Christmas. The finish of Advent, and Christmas in particular, however, wants to get the balance right. The birth and the childhood of Jesus are far more significant that we think. On the fourth Sunday of Advent, when we read of the Annunciation, we are invited to contemplate an important question. What does God want to communicate through this divine childhood? Why this ‘prelude’ is so important for Him?
I found a useful and thought-provoking idea in Julia Kristeva and Philip Soller’s new book, Marriage as Fine Art. When two adults who fell in love meet, in retrospect they recover their childhood. Love opens up the newly formed couple to each other. All of us can recall, that indeed, strangely, in the time of courting, people share their childhood stories. We not simply reflect on our past but revisit those formative years and events since childhood. Couples share how they become the persons who they are. These memories of formation and bonding, with all the positive experiences, are retrieved, revealed, and intensely renewed. This sharing and openness bond the lovers, and form a ground for their later life-covenant.
Why not contemplate the scene of the Annunciation in this light? Jesus wants to share this formative event of his life with us. By telling the story of his conception owing to the yes of his Mother, he wants to share with us how wonderful it was to be embraced by the Father’s love - and become incarnate in human flesh. How joyful it was for the Second Divine Person, the Son, to undertake the journey to save us. He tells of his positive experience, however unconscious it was, of his conception, birth, and real childhood. Jesus wants to share how fully he could rely on his mother’s love and care, and his Father’s providence.
Through his story telling and sharing his ‘invisible story’, we are invited to a similar exercise. In the upcoming three days leading up to Christmas Eve, why don’t we share our own childhood, and positive, formative events of life with God? Just as we opened up in love to the beloved one, let us be interested in the life of our ultimate partner and friend, Jesus Christ himself. If he shares his story wit us, if we share ours with him, what a covenant of love shall be renewed!
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..