“When we look at a father or a mother who speaks to their little child,” the Pope explained in his Dec. 12 daily homily, “we see that they become little and speak with a voice of a child and with the manners of children…That’s how the Lord speaks to us.”
Addressing those gathered for his Mass in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse, Pope Francis began by reflecting on the words of Isaiah from the day’s first reading in which the prophet assures the Israelites of God’s presence, and tells them not to fear.
What is important in this passage, the pontiff noted, is not only “what the Lord says” but also “how He says it.”
“When the child has a bad dream, he wakes up, cries...the father goes and says, ‘Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, I’m here,” the Pope explained, adding that “That’s how the Lord speaks to us…He is near.”
Reflecting on how parents often speak to small children in the tone of the little child, the pontiff observed that “Someone looking in from the outside might think, ‘This is ridiculous!’ They become smaller, right there, no?”
But they do this, the Pope explained, “because the love of a father and a mother needs to be close…to lower themselves to the world of the child.”
“If the father and mother spoke to them normally, the child would still understand,” he continued, “but they want to take up the manner of speaking of the child.”
“They come close, they become children. And so it is with the Lord.”
Recalling the Greek theologian’s “difficult” word “synkatábasi,” literally meaning “the condescension of God who comes down to make Himself one of us,” which is used to describe this attitude, Pope Francis noted how parents also say “ridiculous things” to their children.
“‘Ah, my love, my toy,’” and “all these things” are said, the Pope explained, stating that the Lord also speaks to us in this way, quoting Isaiah when he says “‘you worm Jacob…you are like a worm to me, a tiny little thing, but I love you so much.’”
“This is the language of the Lord, the language of the love of a father, of a mother,” reflected the pontiff, explaining that although we understand the word of the Lord, we also need to “see how He says it.”
“And we must do what the Lord does, do what He says and do it as He says it: with love, with tenderness, with that condescension towards the brethren.”
Referring then to Elijah’s encounter with God when the Lord came to him as “as sweet breeze,” or “sound of silence,” Pope Francis observed that “that is how the Lord draws near, with that resonance of silence that is proper to love. Without making a spectacle.”
“He becomes small in order to make me strong; He goes to death, with that condescendence, so that I might live.”
This silence, noted the Pope, “is the music of the language of the Lord, and we, in the preparation for Christmas, ought to hear it.”
“Normally, Christmas seems to be a very noisy holiday,” the pontiff explained, emphasizing that “it would do us good to have a little silence and to hear these words of love, these words of such nearness, these words of tenderness.”
“(Let us pray) for this,” he urged, “and to be silent in this time in which, as it says in the preface, we are watchful in waiting.”
During his daily Mass Pope Francis reflected on how God lowers himself to converse on our level, and encouraged those present to make more moments of silence in order to prepare for the birth of Jesus.
Children, Christmas, Pope Francis, Jesus Christ