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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

St. Therese and the Little Lord Jesus

Fr. Scott A. Haynes

Throughout the Liturgical year we celebrate the mysteries of our Faith. On Easter we celebrate the Resurrection victory of Christ over sin and death. On Pentecost we embrace the coming of the Holy Spirit. But on Christmas we celebrate the humility of weakness of the Infant Jesus.

Indeed, few creatures are more helpless than a newborn child. Even a little puppy has a coat to protect him against the cold. A tiny fish can seek its own food, but a human child depends totally on his mother. God – who created the oceans, the mountains and the night stars - freely chose to become so weak. Christ “did not abhor the Virgin’s womb.” No! He became Mary’s little boy for our sake – for our salvation. He became weak so that we might become strong.

God embraced our weakness for a reason. He desires to communicate to us his strength, his very life. Someone who had a great appreciation of God’s weakness was St. Therese of Lisieux. Her mother died when she was only four. And since Therese was the youngest of nine children, her father pampered and babied her.

Therese became hypersensitive – at the slightest setback or criticism, she would burst into tears. If she even imagined someone was criticizing her, she would start to cry. Then she would cry because she had cried! In spite of her extraordinary intelligence, it seemed she would always be emotionally crippled. She prayed to Jesus, but there was no answer.

Finally on Christmas Eve 1886, when Therese was almost 14 years-old, the answer came. Shortly after saying a prayer to the Infant Jesus, she overheard a comment by her dad. Normally any negative word from her father would cause her to break into tears. But she didn’t. In an instant God made her more sensitive to her father’s feelings than her own. This was the turning point in Therese’s life. Here is how she described that moment in her autobiography:
“On that blessed night the sweet infant Jesus, scarcely an hour old, filled the darkness of my soul with floods of light. By becoming weak and little, for love of me, He made me strong and brave: He put His own weapons into my hands so that I went on from strength to strength, beginning, if I may say so, ‘to run as a giant.’”
The Holy Child, she said, had healed her of undue sensitivity and “girded her with His weapons.” It was by reason of this vision that she became known as “Therese of the Child Jesus.”

Therese only lived ten more years. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 24, but she became one of the most remarkable saints of modern times and a doctor of the Church. Millions of people have read her Autobiography and have gained encouragement from her “Little Way.” St. Therese of the Child Jesus knew that God shows his greatest strength when human beings feel the weakest. And, dear friends of Christ, when you feel most weary, most tempted, it is precisely then that God wishes to make known his love through you.

Your soul, you see, is something like that inn at Bethlehem. As Mary was about to give birth to the Christ Child in the middle of the night, Joseph knocked on the door of the inn at Bethlehem, but the innkeeper denied them entrance.

By analogy Joseph and Mary are knocking at the door of your heart, just like they knocked on the door of the inn at Bethlehem. Will you let the Christ Child in? Today imitate St. Therese. She heard the voice of the sweet infant Jesus scarcely an hour old knocking on the door of her heart. Without hesitation she gave him entrance. And he flooded her soul with divine light.

St Therese of the Child Jesus pray for us.


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