Doing my prayer recently I was meditating on the Nativity, in particular the shepherds using the text from Lk 2:8-20 and a meditation that was given at a recent silent retreat I attended. The first question that came to me was ‘Why were the shepherds the first to be told about the birth of Christ?’ You literally have the birth of the King of the World, and you have these outcasts from ‘out the country’ having an apparition from some angels, having this made known to them: ‘Look I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people’. It’s just like the shepherd children at Fatima and Garabandal. Why did Our Lady appear to these poor, uneducated shepherd children and not to some smart and rich dude?’ It got me thinking in fairness – the only word that would come into my mind was ‘simplicity’. It struck me that God chooses the poor, the meek, the humble, the childlike, to directly reveal His message.
We’ll look at it from the other side, humanly speaking, take for example a well-known, educated person. Why wouldn’t God make His message known to him, who in all respects has more power, has a greater audience, more credence from an ordinary Josope? Precisely because of this!! Pride, power, ease. God wants sacrifice not ease. He wants humility not pride, and meekness, not power. Because He wants us in heaven, and only by this path can we make it there.
‘Uneducated’ and simple people accept what it is the Lord is saying to them without question. And they straight away do what they can to carry out what He is asking them. Only when we become simple can He do with us what He wills – we become like clay in the hands of a potter. Only when we empty ourselves of all that is not God, can He fill us with Himself.
Childlikeness is pleasing to God. It’s why he came to us as a child – so that we might imitate Him in His humility and simplicity. God didn’t have to come as a child: He could have come as a great King if He had wanted, but He did what He did so that He might be an example for us to follow, becoming meek and totally vulnerable so that us being like Him, He might shape us according to His plan.
A part of childlikeness also is the idea of dependency – when I imagine a baby: weak, vulnerable, COMPLETELY dependent on their mother, I think of us as the baby and God as the one we’re dependent on, when we completely give our lives to Him. God became completely dependent on Mary and Joseph – let me repeat that – GOD became completely dependent on humans. When a person makes himself completely dependent on another human person, they put themselves at the mercy of that person, meaning they put their trust in that person, whether for good or for bad. God is only good, so when we make ourselves completely dependent on Him, we put ourselves at His mercy, and put our trust in Him. To be dependent on someone, by rights, it should be a person you can trust. You know they won’t lead you wrongly. When Christ, God himself, came into the world, He put himself wholly at the mercy of humanity, and ended up being so mercilessly killed by us – He made Himself so vulnerable and dependent FOR US. And all He asks of us is that childlike surrender, trust and dependency on Him, which only He, and no other creature, deserves.
Recently when I was on a hiking trip with other Home of the Mother girls, after a very hard mountain climb, one of the girls was saying (I’m paraphrasing), ‘I wish I was a child because then I wouldn’t be worrying about how far there was to go and worrying about the pain in my legs.’ In my innocence I would follow my leader trustingly, taking everything as it comes, knowing my leader knows what they’re doing and knows where they’re going. We have to be like this!! Like a child – you follow Daddy because you know that Daddy won’t lead you into danger. You trust him, you trust he knows where he’s leading you and knows what he’s doing. You know he wants what’s best for you. You know he’ll pick you up when you fall. You follow him blindly – you don’t see the end, but you trust Daddy knows the way and will get you there, so you keep going because you know Daddy’s there to guide you.
-Aoibheann Feeney, HMY Ireland