Novena for Christmas - Day 8
Written by St Alphonsus Liguori CSsR Founder, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
The sojourn of the Infant Jesus in Egypt and Nazareth.
Our blessed Redeemer spent his infancy in Egypt, living there for seven years in poverty and contempt. Joseph and Mary were unknown there, with neither relatives nor friends. And they could scarcely earn enough to get by through the labour of their hands. Their cottage was poor, their bed was poor, and their food was poor. In this humble hut, Mary weaned Jesus. At ﬁrst she fed him from her breast. Later on, she took a little bread soaked in water and placed it in his mouth. It was in that cottage that she made his ﬁrst little garment, taking off his swaddling clothes and dressing him in regular ones. In that cottage, the child Jesus took his ﬁrst steps, although he kept faltering and toppling many times, just as other children do. There, also, he uttered his ﬁrst words, but with hesitation.
Imagine what God has reduced himself to for love of us! God, stumbling and falling as he walked! God, stammering while he spoke!
The life Jesus led at the house in Nazareth after his return from Egypt was much the same: poor and humiliating. Until age thirty, he was a simple shop boy, obeying Joseph and Mary. And he was obedient to them (Luke 2:51).Jesus went to fetch water; Jesus opened and closed the shop; Jesus swept the house; he gathered wood for the ﬁre, and worked all day helping Joseph.
Imagine God living as a boy! God sweeping the ﬂoor! God sweating as he planed a piece of wood! And who was he? The all-powerful God, who with a simple nod created the whole universe, and who could destroy it just as easily if he wished! Should not the mere thought of this move our hearts to love him?
How inspiring it must have been to watch the devotion with which Jesus said his prayers, the patience with which he laboured, the haste in which he obeyed, the moderation he used in eating, and the kindness and charity with which he spoke and interacted with others! Every word, every action of Jesus was so virtuous that it ﬁlled everyone around him with love for God—but especially Mary and Joseph, who were constantly with him!
Affections and Prayers
O Jesus, my Saviour! I realize that you, who are my God, lived for many years unknown and looked down upon in poverty because of your love for me. How, then, can I desire the pleasures, honours, and riches of the world? Although they are not bad things, I renounce them all, and I want to be your companion here on earth—poor like you, humble like you, and despised like you. Then I hope to one day enjoy your company in heaven. After all, what can the kingdoms or the treasures of earth amount to? My Jesus, you will be my only treasure, my only Good.
I greatly regret the many times in the past that I have disregarded your friendship while satisfying my own desires. Now I repent with all my heart. From now on, I would be willing to die a thousand times over rather than destroy my relationship with you. My God, I want to offend you no more. I want to love you always. Help me be faithful to you for the rest of my life.
Sweet Mary! You are the refuge of sinners. You are my hope.