by Chorbishop John D. Faris
The middle of the twentieth-century witnessed a significant modification to church design. I am not referring to the alteration of the sanctuaries so that the priest would celebrate the Eucharist facing the people. The modification I am referring to is the installation of crying rooms. Some of us—including the parents of babies and small children—are strong advocates of crying rooms. They love their children, but cannot always calm a baby in the middle of a meltdown. They are embarrassed and sensitive to unsympathetic glares. Others oppose crying rooms that isolate children from the rest of the congregation. They argue that the parishioners belong together and that parents should be applauded for contributing a future generation for the parish.
Whatever side we take, all of us agree that an infant or young child, though much loved and most precious, can still be unreasonable, uncontrollable and disruptive.
At Christmas everything changes.
An infant is put on center stage—quite literally—and becomes focus of attention. The manger scene is the focus of the church and the infant in the manger is the center of the manger scene. All eyes are on the Infant Jesus.
Like other babies, the Infant Jesus takes great joy to see us, and demands our love, time and attention. Like other babies, the Infant Jesus will test our patience, make demands that we consider to be unreasonable, and will be uncontrollable.
Unlike other babies, Jesus will never outgrow any of these qualities. Throughout our lives, Jesus will take great joy in spending time with us. He will continue to make demands on our time and attention, to test our patience and to make challenges that seem to be unreasonable.
Jesus will never allow himself to be put in the crying room.
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