WHY IS THERE A DEVOTION?
canonized saints and so many others have recognized the need of devotion to the
Infant King is not hard to understand. Far back in Old Testament times the
prophet Isaiah spoke of a little "shoot" that was to bud from the stock of
Jesse (Is. 11).
The spirit of the
Lord would rest on this one of David's line and at His coming there would be
messianic peace throughout the land, for "a little child shall lead them."
The evangelists of the New Testament see this prophecy fulfilled in Christ.
He is the true
Prince of Peace so long awaited. Son of Mary, who is of David's line, He is at
the same time the eternal Son of God.
has placed in men's hearts an instinctive response to the helplessness of
childhood. It is His will that this response, as all others, be made to His Son,
who "being rich, became poor for your sake. in order that by His poverty you
might become rich" (2 Cor. 8, 9). God ordained that Jesus should know all life's
stages: infancy, childhood, youth, that He should be like us in
everything, except sin.
Our Lord knew the
frailty of babyhood. He had to be nursed and carried about in Mary's arms, to
watch with wondering eyes the world unfading to His growing intelligence. There
is no stage of growth that Jesus has not sanctified for us by living it Himself.
And childhood seems to hold a special place in His heart.
For as a grown
man, it was a child whom He took in His arms to hold up as a model for His
disciples. "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" they had asked Him.
Christ's answer was: "I tell you, unless you change and become like children,
you will never get into the kingdom of heaven at all! Anyone, therefore, who is
as unassuming as this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Mt.
18,1-5). This teaching should not be misunderstood. Jesus is not commending
childishness, timidity, lack of spiritual maturity.
The Infant of
Prague is pictured wearing a crown, with a globe in one small hand, and this is
not without meaning. "The government is on His shoulder," we sing in the Introit
of the third Mass for Christmas day. The Child of Bethlehem was born with a
mission of salvation.
Being a follower
of Christ demands courage, decisive action, maturity. But coupled with these
must always be humility, candor, confidence—those virtues
of childhood. It is these virtues that Jesus is recommending.
Love for our
Infant Savior teaches us to accept—as He did—our littleness, our
poverty as creatures. It teaches us, as St. Paul was taught, that "My
grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in infirmity" (2 Cor. 12,
9). This devotion shows us that God's power is attracted by our very weakness,
for when dealing with our human frailty, God's power is mercy. The proud and
arrogant, God scatters, "He has put down the mighty from their thrones," as our
Lady sang in her Magnificat. But the little and humble He loves. "He has exalted
the lowly" (Lk. 1, 52).
This devotion to
the Christ Child also teaches us a daring confidence in our heavenly
Father. He shows His power most of all, as the Collect prayer for the 10th
Sunday after Pentecost reminds us by pardoning and granting mercy.
It is from His
Son that we learn how much our Father yearns to show us His love and hear
our prayers. "If one of you asks his father for a loaf, will he hand him a
stone, or for a fish, will he hand him a serpent, or if he asks for an egg, will
he hand him a scorpion? Therefore, if you, evil as you are, know how to give
good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give. . ."