I’m so happy you have joined me at this Catholic Moms Retreat for Advent.
“The Season of Advent is like springtime in nature, when everything is renewed and so is fresh and healthy. Advent is also meant to do this to us-to refresh us and make us healthy, to be able to receive Jesus in whatever form He may come to us.” – St. Mother Teresa (Reference: Mother Teresa in “Do Something Beautiful for God, page 116)
We are waiting and preparing our hearts for the Newborn Jesus.
As moms, we know what it feels like to have to wait to hold our newborn child.
So many thoughts go through our minds: What will the baby look like? What will the baby’s personality be like? Will the baby look like my other children?
We are anxious to finally hold that baby in our arms and kiss and love them. We wait for that day to come!
This may be how the Jewish people felt back before Jesus was born, except instead of waiting 9 months, it was thousands of years! And Jesus was not what they expected—A BABY!
God came as a baby?!?
The people didn’t want to believe this. They had already made up their minds of who God was and weren’t open to the truth. They thought God would get rid of all the evil people and bring justice to all by coming as a mighty ruler.
Maybe God has been different than what you expected in your own life and we are going to explore that in this retreat – trying to contemplate who God is rather than who we want Him to be.
We first meet Jesus at conception and I believe mothers can truly understand the mystery and intimacy of this time in Jesus’ life on earth. And I hope to prepare you to welcome the little Jesus into your heart.
God came to us as a baby. What does that tell us about God and have you truly accepted this?
Go to the next segment to come along this Advent journey with me!
Day 1: What does the Baby Jesus tell us about God the Father?
He didn’t come as a distant ruler or mighty king. He didn’t make the mountains quake or strike down all the evildoers as the people had wanted.
NO He came as a baby!
What does that tell us about God?
Well St. Thérèse of Lisieux said, “A God who became so small could only be Mercy and Love.”
Our God who could have done anything else came to us as a helpless baby.
As moms, we know the intimacies and the everyday traits of a newborn baby. A baby has total dependence on us and cannot do anything for himself/herself. But this is GOD we are talking about. He could have destroyed the earth in one instant, but he didn’t. Instead He came to us as an infant lying in the manger.
I wonder if I were living during that time, would I have believed that God came as a baby?
Would I have been disappointed?
Would I have recognized Him?
I’m really not sure but I am lucky to believe it now because of God’s grace.
So, what does this tell us about God?
God may come to us in a way unexpected, a way we’ve never known. God is more than we can humanly imagine. We must be open to who He is, rather than who we want Him to be.
Just as the Jews didn’t want to accept that God could be this way, will you not accept Him in certain areas of your life?
Have you created a God in your mind who is convenient for your life choices or personal opinions/beliefs?
We are limited by what we know and experience and we use this to apply to our image of God, but that only happens when you rely on your own understanding. But we are told to not rely on our own understanding and trust in the Lord with all our hearts! (from Proverbs 3:5-6).
If we are open to the Truth, (whom the Truth is Jesus who said, “I am the Truth, the Way, and the Life”) the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to the God we can’t imagine on our own, but the ONE who truly exists.
We must realize how small our thinking and understanding of God is. Let go of our judgments or negative perception of God. We may have these thoughts only because of what happened to us in the past, but we must see that God loves us completely. We may see things in our lives that don’t make sense to show His love for us, but we must trust that He is ALL-GOOD and ALL-KNOWING and will only allow what is best for us and through the great suffering of this life- He is suffering alongside us.
We have a Father who loves us personally and deeply. The moment that we forget that God is all-good, we doubt His love for us. Is it easier for us to accept that baby Jesus is all-good? Probably. But in knowing the child Jesus, you will begin to know the Father. Jesus said many times, “The Father and I are one.” (John 10:30, RSVCE)
Sometimes, we mistakenly separate God the Father and Jesus as if they are two different gods. The people wanted the Mighty Father, not a meek child. What would Jesus have said if we asked Him to show us the Father? Well, let’s see what happened when one of His disciples asked that question:
”Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?” (John 14: 8-10, RSVCE)
So when you see Jesus at any stage of His life, you also see the Father. We call Jesus the Son of God and that very fact that He is a Son reveals to us that He has a Father. Our own human understanding makes us think that would separate them as two beings, but Jesus says They are one, along with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Trinity is a mystery. Yes, we can do our best to learn more about God, but we must also be willing to accept the wonder of mystery-the wonder of not-knowing.
I’m not going to get into understanding the Trinity- I will leave that for the theologians, but one thing I know is what parenthood is like and there is no other bond like between a parent and his or her child. So I imagine the Son and Father have an even deeper bond than humans can have that makes them one.
I feel like we give God the Father a bad reputation in the Old Testament as if He “changed” in the New Testament. But NO, God is unchanging! The God you meet in the Old is the same God you meet in the New! The baby who lays sleeping in an animal trough is also the Lion of Judah. Jesus gave God’s mercy a face, a life and a story. The mercy you see from Jesus is from the Father also.
There is also great mercy in the Old Testament. How many times did God’s people sin against Him and worship other gods? Also, Abraham had a child with his maid, David had a man wrongly killed and a lot more, but God had mercy on their repentant hearts and was still able to continue His plan for His children. Unfortunately, in our human nature, we look for God to practice revenge, but we don’t look at the whole picture of who God the Father is.
We know as parents that when a child does something against the rules, there needs to be consequences or else they don’t learn from it and will do it over and over again. God does the same, yet He is much more patient, wants no one to perish (2 Peter 3:9) and waits for us to repent. But when we don’t, He has to give consequences because it will be used to bring us back to Him. He is our Creator, He knows how we work!
If instead of coming as a baby, God came down blasting every evil-doer, every sinner, we all would have been gone forever. His Mercy would not allow it, neither would His Justice. A just judge gives punishment to those who are guilty and yes we are guilty, but we are also very lost. God knew that we are lost sheep in the wilderness and we could not find our path so He gave us His Son to guide us, teach us, and give us eternal life. (Quote John 3:16-21)
St. Thèrése of Lisieux would agree,
“I know that the Lord is infinitely just; and it is this justice, which frightens so many souls, that is the object of my joy and confidence. To be just is not only to exercise severity in order to punish the guilty; it is also to recognize the right intentions and to reward virtue. I expect as much from God’s justice as from His mercy. It is because He is just that “He is compassionate and filled with gentleness, slow to punish, and abundant in mercy, for He knows our frailty, He remembers we are only dust. As a father has tenderness for his children, so the Lord has compassion on us!”
(REFERENCE: General Correspondence, Volume II, trans. John Clark, O.C.D. (Washington, D.C.: Washington Province of Discalced Friars, Inc., 1988), amended by the compiler, 1093. )
When I think about the first sin against God when Adam and Eve were created, I always thought God’s plans got messed up and maybe He was surprised by their rebellion. But then I am reminded that God is all-knowing. Before He created Adam and Eve (and us), He already saw the future of the world in all of its goodness and destruction, and yet He still created Adam and Eve (and us!). I think this shows His great Fatherly Love for us. That even though there would be difficult times and suffering, He would be our reward. He wanted us personally. We have a God who has specifically and wholly chosen us to be with Him out of His Great Love.
Think about when you decided to have a child. Did you for once ever think that your child would not rebel against you?
Yet, you still wanted them. You wanted to love them with all of your heart and give everything you could to them to make them happy, healthy, holy and safe.
Unlike God, we don’t know what the future holds, but I’m sure you still would do it all over again if you had the choice because of that one child that changed your life forever whom you love with all of your heart.
God knew us and fell in love with us before we were in our mother’s womb.
Isn’t that a Father who you would want to spend eternity with? YES!
We have a Father who knows the depths of our faults and failings and yet still loves us the same.
Reflect on your own life: How many times have we needed to surrender our expectations for parenting?
We think this one thing will work for our struggles like to potty train or get them to sleep through the night. Then when it goes wrong, we get so frustrated that it didn’t go the way we wanted. The only way to move forward is to surrender our expectations and try something else. We can’t think we are horrible parents because it didn’t work, but rather because our expectations weren’t aligned with the truth. The same is with God. We must first surrender our expectations of who God is and how our lives were “supposed” to be. Then, we can see God for who He truly is without holding back and we can see our lives closer to how God sees them too.
The people may never have expected God to come as a baby, but JUST think of the people who DID believe this baby was Him! How long they had been waiting for the Messiah! And how beautiful was this first Christmas day when Jesus touched the earth.
So, today I ask that you resolve to be open to the truth of who God truly is, whether it lines up with your own opinion or not, and trust that He is Mercy and Love itself. Once we can do that, then we can move onto accepting that Jesus came as a baby (which I will go more into why Jesus would come as a baby in the next part!).
“God My Father, please reveal to me who You truly are. Help me to surrender my wrong thinking, my past, and my false judgments about God. Amen.”
Read the Gospel of John and see how many times Jesus talks about the Father. You might be surprised!