Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

“This child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel” (Lk 3:34).  Reflecting on the early years in Jesus’ life, St. Bonaventure writes, “Take notice that his doing nothing was itself a kind of wonder.”

The apocryphal writings about Jesus couldn’t accept a divine child doing nothing. The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew narrates a story about the Holy Family’s journey to Egypt. Along the way Mary wanted to pick some cherries but the branches were out of her reach. The infant Jesus speaks to the tree and commands it to lower a branch down to his mother. Another story tells us that when Mary and the child Jesus passed by a pagan temple in Egypt all the idols prostrated themselves on the ground before him. In the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas when Jesus is five years old he fashions twelve sparrows from clay, and then with a clap of his hands they fly off into the air. In another episode when Joseph is making a bed, one of the boards is too short. The child Jesus stretches the wood so Joseph can finish the project. Yet another story tells of Jesus playing with lions and guiding them up to the city gates, frightening the townspeople.

All of these stories give witness to the truth of St. Bonaventure’s reflection: “Take notice that his doing nothing was itself a kind of wonder.” We expect a divine child to do divine things! Instead, the divinity of Jesus was hidden in his humanity for thirty years. And that prepares us to believe in the real Presence of Jesus hidden under the appearances of bread and wine. And it also helps us to believe what is presently hidden from our eyes, that Jesus has made us sharers in his divinity. Take notice, that our doing nothing divine is itself a kind of wonder, but after our hidden years are over we will be manifested to the whole universe as sharers in the glory and divinity of Christ Jesus.