The faith of a child is marvelous.
My daughter Alice is 2 1/2 years old. We usually leave the house together in the morning — she to daycare and I to work. This morning, Alice walked into the kitchen holding a baby doll wrapped in a little blanket. “Look!” she said. “It’s the baby Jesus.”
“Oh,” I said, “I see.”
“Yeah,” she said. “We’re gonna put him in the manger.”
I smiled down at her. “That’s right, isn’t it? Because there’s no room for him in the inn.” Then I went off to hunt her socks and shoes while she cradled the baby doll and spoke softly to it.
When I got back she was in the laundry room by the back door. She was sitting down on the floor still holding the baby doll. “Come on, Alice,” I said. “Time to go.”
She looked up at me sharply. “I’m Mary,” she said. “And you’re Joseph.”
“Oh! Okay,” I said. “Then let’s go, Mary.”
I must have look startled when she scolded me. Because when I picked her up she looked at me sympathetically and said, “I love you, Joseph.”
“I love you too, Mary,” I replied. (Alice pronounces ‘Joseph” something like “Jofuff,” which makes the whole thing better.)
We went out to the car then. And during the ride into town, she kept calling me Joseph and referring to herself as Mary. When we got to her daycare, I asked her if she wanted to leave the baby Jesus in the car. But she wouldn’t have any of it. “No,” she said. “Maybe I can share Jesus with my friends, and then when they’re done they can give him back to me.”
I could spend days waxing on about what I think about our time together this morning. But let me resist and just offer this instead:
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven'” (Matthew 18:1-4).