Daily Reflection
January 3rd, 2005
Tim Austin
Arts & Science
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All right … let me begin by admitting that I’m feeling more than just a touch of resentment right now.

There’s nothing a child likes less than to be told, “You’ll understand this once you’re a grown-up.” Unfortunately, too many parents use this line as a way to avoid talking with their daughters and sons about serious issues. Since the excuse is pretty transparent, even to the children, they … that is, we … grow up suspecting that every such remark from our elders is a cop-out.

So, when I read in 1 John that “we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed,” up go my defenses! The writer does at least use the pronoun we, I suppose. But just replace we with you and what do we have? “You are God’s child; you’re not yet old enough to understand grown-up stuff.”

And while we’re about it, I also have a problem with the version of the story of John the Baptist that forms today’s second reading. To be more precise, I’m distinctly jealous of John, who seems to have been handed a way to cheat on the quiz. He’s pretty frank, after all, in admitting that he didn’t originally have the answer to the most important question on the page: “I did not know [Jesus],” he says.  Luckily for him, though, the Holy Spirit not only told him what was about to happen but “[came] down like a dove … and [remained] upon [Jesus].” Hard to mistake a sign like that!

So who says I’m not big enough to understand what grown-ups talk about? And why don’t I ever get dramatic signals from the Almighty about what I’m supposed to do with my life? Why is “revelation” something that happens only to other folks? It all seems pretty unfair.


The reflections that appear on this site have to be submitted a couple of weeks ahead of time, so I am writing these paragraphs in the middle of Advent.

Advent is of course a season of penitential reflection—and it may indeed be that I should be asking forgiveness for some of the emotional reactions that I outlined above!

But Advent is also the season when we celebrate the birth of a tiny child whose arrival among us answers all the questions and “reveals” the truth in a form that just about anyone can understand. 

The writer of 1 John may tell me I am a child, but God took the form of a child so that we might see and imitate what we may never fully understand in our time on this earth, so that we might see the truth without having to have things revealed to us.  And that, I suggest, is the most marvelous of the “marvelous deeds” of which the psalmist sings today.


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