In our gospel today we have the conclusion of the presentation of the baby Jesus in the temple. Did you ever wonder why Jesus came among us as a baby? Why didn’t he come upon this earth as a fifty-foot giant commanding attention or as a knight in shining armor? Why didn’t he arrive flying in a Star Wars airship? Why did he come as a little baby?
I think he came as a baby, first of all, to show us we have nothing to be afraid of. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, the angel said, “Do not be afraid.” When the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, the angel said, “Do not be afraid.” The angel told the shepherds, “Do not be afraid.” So many times Jesus told his followers, “Do not be afraid.”
Jesus came to cast out fear: “Do not be afraid to talk to God. Do not be afraid of those who can harm the body but cannot harm the soul. Do not be afraid to speak the truth. Do not be afraid to stand up for justice. Do not be afraid to follow me. Do not be afraid to live. I am Emmanuel. I will always be with you.”
Secondly, a baby wants to be held and loved. Jesus came as a baby to tell us that he wants our love.
And thirdly, once you caress a little baby, it is natural to pass the baby around for others to hold. Once we hold Jesus, he says, “Now give me away. Give me to others so that I may bring them joy. And when you give me away, you still have me.”
Like Anna let us give thanks to God and then speak of Jesus to all who are looking for redemption. Do not be afraid to hold him, and then give him away.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/