This past week I was reading a delightful story I found on Ronald Rolheiser’s1 website about a little six year old boy named Christopher. During the second half of an evening soccer match the coach put him in as the goal keeper. While the ball was on the opposite side of the field, a little gopher popped up right in front of Christopher who crouched down real low to see him. Christopher had never seen a wild animal and was so fascinated by it that he forgot about everything else. He slowly started crawling toward it. Their eyes locked on each other and in the midst of a magic moment of intense connection, he forgot about everything. Suddenly he heard people shouting at him, “Get up, and pay attention!!! All the shouting scared the gopher who disappeared back down the hole and before little Christopher could look up the ball was in the net.
On the ride home the car was filled with his father’s disappointment. But little Christopher, at six years of age was more enthralled with an encounter with a gopher than he was organized sports. And he knew that when he closed his eyes that night, he would be remembering the gopher as he went to sleep. Rolheiser concluded his story with Jesus’ quote from today’s gospel. “I thank you, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the clever and have revealed them to mere children.” Yet, how applicable it is to us for this Advent season.
The Christmas story, as we all know, unfolds in a manner which no human person was expecting. This says a lot about how God comes to us. The incarnation is more about God’s ability to enter our experience with beauty and surprise. Those who embrace this, share in Divine joy and delight. Part of Advent has to be about coming to a greater understanding and appreciation of this truth. I think this is why Jesus affirms the children in today’s Gospel. They still hold an innocence allowing them to believe beyond the limitations which cripple the adult mind. They can see how wolves, lambs, leopards, kids, calves, and lions can all get along together, “with a little child to guide them.” Isaiah continues, “There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain.” And there’s even a place for a six year old boy to stare into the eyes of a gopher and grasp the significance of Emmanuel – God with us.
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is the pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Louisville, Kentucky.