As a Child
In this beautiful homily for 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year B, Father Hanly explains that the only people who understand Christmas, and will always understand Christmas, is helpless little children.
Readings for Second Sunday of Advent, Year B
- First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
- Second Reading: Second Peter 3:8-14
- Gospel: Mark 1:1-8
This should be a very brief homily. I just have a few things to say about Christmas, that’s all.
I love Christmas. I always have. I think most people do.
My sister Peggy, she loves Christmas so much that she’s become a Christmas junkie. She fills the house with all of those things that you buy for 25c or 10c or a nickel, and she takes it all very seriously.
My sister Ann is a little bit more understanding of the need for Jesus and Bethlehem and all these things as well.
But me, I just like Christmas.
My earliest memory is my father holding me up to a Christmas tree. I know it was my father because I could smell his coat and his coat always smelled of smoking. And to this day — and I could only have been two plus years old — I still see the flashing fire on the tree, because, in those days, they actually lit the candles on the Christmas tree.
Anyhow, after my many years, I realised one important fact and I’m going to share that with you.
Christmas is for poor people. It’s not for rich people. It’s not for tidy people. It’s not for “know everything.” It’s not for the wise of the world. It’s for kids. It’s for children.
Think of that now. It’s not what you’re going to get for Christmas. It’s not what you’re going to give to Christmas.
Christmas is very simple: it’s an innocent babe, a child, a child who has come, as we know, as the Son of God.
It’s a very nervous father, a stepfather, who doesn’t know what the next thing is going to be and what’s going to happen. And he’s frightened and he knows he’s responsible. He’s not responsible to God, he’s responsible to a teenage girl who’s pregnant and about to give birth to a little baby.
If you understand the way God comes, unlocks the great mysteries of God Himself, then you must understand why God is humble, God is loving, God cares.
He’s not looking for us to be wonderful people. If He’d wanted wonderful people, He would have made us wonderful. So He made us human beings. He made us to cry and to weep, to be frightened and afraid.
Because God is this way. And when God becomes man, He’s not playing a game. He is a helpless child. He’s raised in a terrible place. He lives thirty-three years. He dies on a cross. He has felt everything that we collectively have ever felt in our whole lives and even more.
Because deep in His heart, He knows it is only in sharing in us — sharing your need, sharing with others, welcoming people that are rejected by everybody else, sitting down and being frightened with them and caring for them — and this is the only love that God understands.
And so it is, this Christmas, think of that.
Think of all the things that you’re hiding from, running away from, fearful of. Jesus is saying when you embrace these things then you know that you are close to God, for our God is a wonder God, and the wonder is that He dares to love.
Because there’s only one thing that is very difficult for us. It is very difficult for us, and many of us never achieve it, and many of us try and fail. The one thing is learning how to love — not as we would like to love, picking and choosing — learning how to love the way Jesus learned.
It is wonderful to attack a world that is full of nonsense, full of its own ego, and to see that the only people who understand Christmas, and will always understand Christmas, is helpless little children.
So don’t be afraid to become a child, because, Jesus once said it, when you understand children, you will have touched God Himself.