Here’s a picture of my son when he was a baby!
Wait… whoops, no, that’s definitely Jesus. In fact, it’s a picture of the whole Holy Family! Mary and Joseph are resting for a brief moment while they flee to Egypt to protect Jesus.
But, oh my goodness! Jesus looks like my son did when he was a baby! That curly mop of thick brown hair that looks much too full to even be real for a baby, that gigantic size that seemed to take over my lap when he fell asleep and stretched his whole length out, those pudgy, squishable thighs… even that face that Jesus has is similar to my son’s when he was sleeping! If I had learned that Sisto Badalocchio had traveled through time to use my son as the model for Jesus to paint this artwork, the only thing that would make me surprised is the fact that I didn’t notice my son’s absence!
And so, when I first saw this picture, I adored it, because I adore my son.
Yet, it occurred to me that, just as I saw my son’s image in Christ, so should the opposite happen… I should see Christ in my son. And thus I should serve him, just as I should serve Christ. After all, didn’t Christ tell us in Matthew 25:31-46 that taking care of the least also meant serving Him? And children, especially younger children, are particularly vulnerable and need lots of attention. So, to follow Christ is to love and serve the people who Christ has brought into our lives, especially our own little children!
This, of course, is easy to do when things are going well. When my children are happy and playing well with each other, it’s easy to see Christ in both of them and to love them. But, when they fight? When their emotions take them over and they throw tantrums? When I am most of the night feeding babies and soothing toddler nightmares and hardly sleep at all? Then it’s much harder to do.
Yet, that makes it all the more important to follow Christ’s commandment to love and serve each other. Just… perhaps I can’t rely on my own strength at times. After all, sometimes parenting can be tough and exhausting. It can be hard to even think straight at times, especially when you’re struggling with your own conflicts, on top of the conflicts that your children present to you.
But that makes it even more important to stay grounded in Christ. After all, to be grounded with Christ means that Christ will give us His own strength to see Christ in our neighbor and those that we love… and give us strength for us to serve them. After all…
13I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.
Help us find the Your face in the people that come into our lives. Give us the strength to serve them with Your love.