Today’s Advent reflection is written by Paula Mitchell. Paula is a Spiritual Director, retreat facilitator, writer, wife, and mother of four grown sons. She is the founder and program director of Doorways Ministries, providing days of prayer, Ignatian retreats, and a 9 month program based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius as ways of deepening our lives with Christ. She is also the city coordinator for the Ignatian Spirituality Project, a Jesuit organization dedicated to offering spiritual retreats inspired by Ignatian Spirituality to people experiencing homelessness.
Jesus, life of the world, Word of the Father, the one who holds all things together,
creator and sustainer of all life, your life and mine, now and forever.
Became one of us, small, needy, dependent, a helpless babe. A child.
Holding nothing, grasping nothing but his mother’s hand and heart.
He the King of Glory, Christ the King, Savior of the World, came as a child. “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Jesus tells his followers, and you and I, that unless we become like little children we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. I wonder what he means? What is it about being childlike that allows us to enter into the mystery of God’s kingdom? Could it be we need the eyes, ears and faith of a child to see all of life with wonder, to live with the mystery of what is, and what isn’t, to know we are loved and cared for even when we are small, needy, dependent and vulnerable?
Jesus told his disciples, “The Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing.” As followers of Jesus, we too, are invited to live as he did, waiting with childlike hope and anticipation, as we eagerly watch for signs of God’s presence in our world. We’re called to live with childlike faith and joy as we receive all of life as streams of gifts, given to us, for us, for the life of the world, if only we have eyes to see, child eyes, seeing all of life with wonder and gratitude, proof of our Father’s love and care.
The path is narrow, this life of following Jesus, it’s hard to see where we are going, we frequently lose sight of Jesus, and it often feels as if we’ve lost our way. When this happens, we are invited to simply wait, trusting his ability to lead, more than our ability to follow. For we’ve been told a little child, the Christ child, shall lead us, lead us into a life of deeper intimacy with our heavenly Father. Lead us to experience his deep and constant love and care for us in spite of our mistakes, our need to be important, to prove ourselves and earn his love. To let go of trying to earn his love; so we can begin to believe the good news that we are already loved, not for what we do but for who we are, whose we are.
We’re invited to let life be simple, believing we have enough, are enough, just as we are. Bid to relax into Jesus’ arms and let ourselves be cared for instead of being “careful”. To live life simply being who we are, knowing whose we are. And if we aren’t sure who we are, as most of us aren’t, to allow ourselves the freedom to discover our true selves in Christ knowing the spaciousness of infinite possibility and surprise.
Simply living, living simply
Free to be who we are and whose we are
Free to make mistakes
To try new things
To simply show up and watch to see what Jesus is doing this day, every day,
in us and in our world.
To not have to lead the way or save the world.
That’s his job not ours.
Our job is to simply show up-
with all that we are and all that we have
our lives and hearts given to Jesus
the life of the world
for the sake of the world.
To give our love
nothing held back
not playing it safe in case things don’t work out so well
or as we think they should.
That’s what Jesus did isn’t it?
He became small, simple, a child.
And lived a life of radical, simple faith and trust.
Dependent each day on his Father’s love and care
totally abandoned to his Father’s will.
Can we who bear his likeness, who are called to bear the life and light of Jesus into our world, live any differently? Each day we are invited to wait in eager anticipation, as Mary did, beckoned beyond where we are to a life of radical availability so the life of Jesus may be born anew, embodied, in our hearts and lives and world. Bid to abandon the state of constant anxiety and worry about doing things right (as if we really could get it right anyway)–to simply let go and let ourselves be cared for like a child. And so discover Jesus has already got it right, made us right. That’s his job not ours.
I hope and pray that, you, too, will discover your belovedness as you embrace a life of childlike faith and trust. As you take the downward journey of letting go of trying to control your life in order to receive the life you’ve been given, accepting Jesus’ invitation to live a life of a childlike faith, full of wonder, mystery, and joy. Created in love. Invited to simply share love and grace with reckless abandon with everyone everywhere.