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While I was doing some weeding in the church garden recently, I chanced upon a Nonna breaking off a few sprigs of rosemary. She’d not realized I was there, and a little flushed, explained that she needed some for her roast, and then added: “I think the baby Jesus would be very unhappy with me for being so naughty!” I replied that I thought that Jesus would be happy that she was preparing such a lovely meal for her family, and that it was a good use of our rosemary bush.
But as I stewed over her words later that night, I wish that I’d given a better answer and put my theological-secateurs to better use. Do people really think that Jesus is still a baby? Or that he never grew up? Or that they only have to answer to an infant, and not to the Son of Man in his glory? Or that sin is simply a little-naughtiness?
What troubled me most was that this grandmother was saying these things in front of her grandson; and so now the poor boy will grow up with a taste for his Nonna’s lamb, but have no idea of the Lamb who left his manger to atone for our ‘superfluity of naughtiness’, as the old Bible puts it. I wish I’d been faster with my spade. Mary did indeed have a little lamb, but it’s only the way the Book tells the story that holds the saving power.
DM 25th August 2020