The Creator as Child

To hold one’s recently-born babe in one’s arms and consider his new life and his dependence on his parents is deeply moving, especially with one’s first child. One looks and marvels at this new life, so much of it yet only potential and so little kinetically realized, but real nonetheless, beautiful, and brimming with possibilities. What sort of person does this body and soul contain? Who will emerge as he grows and develops? After one has two or three children, one realizes that though infants look much the same (despite the crowd who are ready to declare that he looks just like uncle Joe), entirely different persons quickly emerge. It will take eighteen full years to present this infant to the world as an adult capable of living on his own (at least it should take but eighteen years; we seem to think taking twice that is normal now).

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the temple, when Joseph and Jesus’s mother Mary bring him into the temple on the fortieth day after his birth to offer the sacrifices required by the Law on His behalf. The righeous elder Simeon, full of the Holy Spirit and waiting for a glimpse of God’s promised salvation, sees them and discerns that this is the One. He takes the infant Jesus in his arms and contemplates Him: here, contained in this helpless infant forty days old is the uncontainable God and Creator of all made man; the One who holds the universe in His hand is held in the hands of the elder. It must have been a profound moment for Simeon to see God made man in such a humble form. Seeing it, he declared himself ready to depart this life in peace, having seen with his own eyes God’s salvation.

While I may not be able to hold the infant God-man in my arms and contemplate His face knowing what His frail frame contains, every year at the Feast the Church offers us this opportunity as we hear the hymns and gaze on the icon of Simeon holding Christ in his arms while His mother and Joseph watch. O glorious wonder to see the eternal God made a helpless child out of His deep love for us!

The Theotokos Mary carried in her arms
Him who is borne aloft upon the chariot of the cherubim
and praised in song by the seraphim,
who was made flesh of her without her knowing wedlock,
the Giver of the Law who fulfilleth the commandment of the Law.
She gave Him into the arms of the priest and Elder;
and holding the Life, he asked to be released from life,
saying: “Now, O Master, let me depart to declare to Adam
that I have seen the pre-eternal God and the Savior of the world
made a babe without undergoing change. Vespers of the Feast of the Presentation

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Published in: on Monday, 2 February, 2009 at 14:31  Leave a Comment  
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