“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counsellor’, ‘Mighty God’, ‘Everlasting Father’, ‘Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6)”. This verse is used in the Liturgy throughout the Christmas Season. It is understood by Christians to refer to Christ. He is the “child”, the “son”, in question. It is on his shoulders that ultimate and universal authority rests. His are the high Messianic titles listed. Venite adoremus!
As Catholics, we believe that the Infant Jesus is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the Word of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, incarnate of the Virgin Mary and born of her “when the fullness of time had come(Col 4:4)”. He alone is Lord and Saviour of humankind, “for there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12)”.
As Catholic educators – and, necessarily, therefore, students of Christian anthropology – we believe with the Fathers of Vatican II that this Infant reveals God to us and reveals us to ourselves: “ [I]t is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come. Christ the Lord, Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling (Gaudium et Spes, The Church in the Modern World, para. 22)”.
As patrons/trustees, governors, managers, leaders, teachers, staff, of Catholic schools, we believe that this Infant is the model, the pattern, the paradigm, of humanity at its most authentic and complete and, therefore, the Alpha and the Omega of all teaching and learning in our schools, the raisin d’etre, the final and definitive purpose, of which is the formation of the young in Christ.
We ought, we must, we shall, make adequate time this Christmas to kneel before the Crib, to worship the Holy Infant; to meditate on his centrality to what we are, and to what we are about, in our work in school; to beg God to give us the light to see, and the love to serve, Jesus in every one of the students committed to our care, each of whom comes to us wrapped, not in swaddling clothes, but in what, for good or ill, nature and nurture have made of them up to that point.
Now, it can take remarkable faith to see, and even more remarkable love to serve, the Infant Jesus in some of those seeking admission to our schools. They may be “trouble”, un-cooperative, recalcitrant. Whether because they can’t, or they won’t, learn effectively, their academic prospects may not be bright. They may be disabled in one way or another. It may be clear from the outset that, if admitted, they will pose a real challenge to the school, its staff, its facilities and its resources, one which, in their heart of hearts, founding charisms and mission statements notwithstanding, Principal and Board would much prefer not to face at all if they could safely dodge having to do so.
Each such child, however, is made in the image and likeness of God; each is a “word” uttered by the Father in the Son from all eternity; each is a “take” on Christ found in no-one else. Gerard Manley Hopkins has put it well: “This jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond Is immortal diamond”; is, in fact, the Holy Infant, the Christ Child, the Lord himself, begging us for refuge, for a place in which to be born, survive and maybe even thrive. Will there be room for the Christ who thus comes to us, so unprepossessingly, so disagreeably, “wrapped”, in my “inn”? Will there be room for him in yours? Or will we adore, but not admit, him?
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock”: ”Lift up your gates, rulers… the King of glory shall enter”