Some years ago I saw a play called “Down Will Come Baby.” As the play opens, the husband is taking down the Christmas tree. Among the things that have been hanging on the tree, there is a model of the Christ child in the manger. Apparently, they had been given out at church, and almost everyone in the parish had one on their tree.
The husband says, “I’ll be sorry to see this go” holding up the model crib. “Can’t we keep Him?” says the wife. “No,” says the husband, “I’ll put Him out when I throw out the tree, the garbage man will collect Him.”
On the day after Christmas, you see models of the crib laying all over the place, inside, outside. The wife is shocked, but the husband says it has to be done, the baby is where He belongs, thrown out with the Christmas cards and carols. The wife becomes increasingly disturbed as the husband continues, “Everybody loves a baby, with its big eyes and all the cute things it does. But when He grows up, it is different: His eyes look through us and watch our thinking. His hands stretch out to make us care. His lips tell us what we are. Then we would have to live like real people: that is more than we can bear.”
The idea for some people is to keep the baby Jesus from becoming Christ the Lord. And that idea is not really new, King Herod had it first. Herod could not stand competition, he could not stand to face what the child might grow up to be, so he tells the three wise men to let him know where the child is.
The Gospel does not tell us much about these three men, these three Pagan truth-seekers, except that they were following a star looking for the newborn king of the Jews. You get a feeling of tension from this story, and from these three strangers asking questions and disturbing people. Only in the presence of the child did they find the answers to their questions. Words could no longer bear the meaning of all they had found in this child, only gestures were adequate. They come to the stable, not a word is spoken. They enter in silence. Falling down, they adore him. Opening their treasures, they offer Him gifts.
This child has been very much a part of our lives in the past few weeks; in our carols, cards, homilies, and programs. Now that Christmas is over and the trees and cards are gone or going, what will happen to the baby? Will He be like the infant Jesus in the play and be thrown out with all the other Christmas paraphernalia? Or will the child grow up to adulthood to become Savior and Lord of our lives?
When the baby Jesus grows up, He could become disturbing: He will not let us be complacent. We would rather leave things as they are, but He insists on changing them. Jesus the baby makes us feel good, He is cute and cuddly. But when He is the strong Son of God, He may be uncomfortable to have around. As the husband in the play says, He looks through us.
You see, the same question could be asked of us that was asked of the wise men: what are you looking for this New Year? What are you looking for? Only you actually know, and some just do not know at all.
Hopefully, most of us are looking for a person, the person of Jesus. He must become real to you, as real as the child was to the wise men. They did not adore an idea or a moral system. They fell in adoration to a person, the person of Jesus, who must become real to you also, as real as your closest friend. You have to become part of Him.
You see, Christ did not come into this world as a helpless child just to preach, teach, and work miracles. He came to make other Christs. You cannot fall down in adoration before the Christ child and then live for yourself, alone. It is a Christian contradiction. Christ has to make a difference in your life, work, school, and home. Because of you, people should know, or at least suspect, that Christ loves them enough to be born in a stable, suffer, die and rise again. For what? For them!
What are you looking for? The question stems not from me, but from Jesus. From your answer, you should learn a good deal about yourself. How convinced and passionate a disciple are you? The question in another form is the question Jesus put to His disciple, Peter, after several years of discipleship: Peter, do you love Me?
He asks all of us that same question. What are you looking for? If it is not Jesus Christ, the Lord, what else is it? St. John tells us, the Word was made Flesh. That line takes the human beauty of the Christmas story and binds it with the divine. It puts God in the straw, and the hands that hold Him are those of a human who is the Mother of God.
The caroling angels are the servants of the child, and the shepherds were made by Him. The Christmas star is His toy. He alone is the true king. We can see our God in a child because the word was made flesh and dwelt among us. The question is, will you be wise enough to fall down and adore him? And open your treasures? And offer Him your gifts?