My 18-month-old nephew is in the pointing/identification stage of life. He and his parents love to show off his vocabulary of about twenty words, which includes the essentials of “mama,” “dada,” “football,” “tractor,” and “uncle.” The funny thing about children in this stage is that they are utterly convinced that they are communicating. They point, say a word, and smile as if they have just made a major contribution to the conversation. When presented with follow-up questions from adults (those capable of speaking in full sentences), they merely reiterate their profound point: “football,” “tractor,” “papa.” It is also funny to watch a toddler point out another toddler. They point and shout, “Baby!” as if to say, “There is someone who is just like me!”
I think this is the proper disposition with which to approach the remaining days of the Christmas season. We can direct the focus of our whole hearts to the baby Jesus asleep in the manger. We point and say, “He is just like me!” If little children get excited at the sight of another baby, how much more should we get excited at the sight of our God who has become a baby. He has become “just like us” in all things but sin. He became like us in order to redeem us and to set a model of life for us, and he did so in a manner that was utterly attractive. St. Cyril of Alexandria says that “he abased himself to the humble condition of a little child in order to make himself more agreeable to our hearts.” This is the only baby who is literally “adorable,” that is, he is the proper object our worship, the only thing that satisfies our hearts. But we live in an impatient age. Nativity scenes are being packed up before the wise men even have a chance to show up to the party. To point to the baby who is God and say “Jesus” not only truly communicates something, but it is the most important contribution to the conversation.
Image: Vincent Van Gogh, Mother Roulin with Baby