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The kid next door

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Spending an evening with the seven year old savior will help you more fully encounter the humility of God, as well as the lengths to which he was and is willing to go to meet us.

Jaymie Stuart
Wolfe

What if the kid next door was Jesus? Maybe you'd noticed him riding a bike or bouncing a basketball in the street as you pulled out of your driveway. Perhaps you'd seen him playing with friends, or helping his mother carry the groceries in. Maybe he delivered your newspaper after school or early last Sunday morning.

And what if the kid next door had questions like yours? Why is there evil in the world? Can suffering have meaning? What is the purpose of my life? It's amazing to realize that for the people in one small hillside town in Galilee, Jesus was the kid next door. And yet, no one except Mary and Joseph really knew that what was different about him had already changed the world. And in time, those things would save it.

We pray it in the Creed every Sunday: the Son of God became the Son of Mary. To those who witnessed him growing up, Jesus was simply the son of Joseph. His neighbors asked, "Isn't this Joseph's son?" when it seemed he thought too highly of himself. Others wondered aloud if anything good could come out of Nazareth.

We focus so much of our faith on the immensity and power of God. It's because we know that we need someone bigger than we are in this world. But that need is what pushes our backs up against the wall of the mystery of the Incarnation. The babe in the manger, the toddler in exile, the child returning home: these don't look enough like a God we can trust with our lives. And yet, we are called to follow the Child who is God, and learn to become children again ourselves.

Becoming a child, though, doesn't mean living a fantasy. Jesus' early years were not the kind of happy childhood any of us hope for our children or wish we had experienced ourselves. There were no summer vacations or birthday bashes or days filled with amusement and fun. Instead there were hidden years of poverty, displacement, and worry living as a foreigner too young to remember home at all. In short, the life of Christ was filled with both love and trauma from his earliest days.

The whole point of the Incarnation is that Jesus, who is the Way, walked the way of humanity from conception until death. It's just that sometimes, it's hard for us to envision the Son of God as the Child we know he must have been. That is why every Christian should plan to see "The Young Messiah" at a free premiere on March 10, or at a nearby theater during the film's opening weekend March 11.

Spending an evening with the seven year old savior will help you more fully encounter the humility of God, as well as the lengths to which he was and is willing to go to meet us. It will also bring you back to your own childhood, and reopen the doors of wonder and trust you, like so many of us, may have closed as we grew up. And, too, the film will offer you the opportunity to embrace the Mother of Jesus as your own and become a more comfortable member of the Holy Family.

More often than not, Lent directs our attention to the last days of Jesus' life on earth. "The Young Messiah" offers us the chance to see the life of Christ as a whole. And that can empower us to see our lives that way too. It might also enable us to see that while Jesus may not be the kid next door, the kid next door is Jesus.

You can register for free tickets to the Framingham Premiere on March 10 at www.propfaithboston.org. Otherwise plan to buy your tickets to see "The Young Messiah" at a theater near you. And take a friend -- or five -- along with you.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is the author of “Adoption: Room for One More?”, a speaker, musician and serves as an Aquisitions Editor at Our Sunday Visitor. Follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.

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