"Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and humankind." (Luke 2:52)
Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better. That was a popular phrase of the positive thinking movement in the 1950s-60s. People were supposed to look in the mirror each day and say that affirmation to oneself. In so doing, they would gradually begin to look upon themselves as good and empowered individuals. Years later, Saturday Night Live, had a character who did a similar thing, as he would look into the mirror and say to himself, "I'm good enough, and smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." We all laughed at his antics but the meaning behind the saying was one to take to heart--to affirm ourselves each day giving thanks for the gifts and talents that we possess.
The first step in any adventure begins with imagining unexplored frontiers. Jesus needed to know who he was as he began his journey on earth. And each day he learned a bit more about who he was as a human being and as the Son of God. He learned in the Temple with the scholars in the story from Luke quoted above and worried his parents as he stayed there to ask questions and talk to them about God. He heard God's voice of affirmation at his baptism and received the Holy Spirit as his companion and then immediately went into the wilderness to be tested. He emerged from that lonely experience renewed in his spirit as he went about healing and doing good for others he met. Each day he learned more about more about who he was as a child of God and as God's Own Son.
Stature is a word we do not use much anymore. It relates to the size of a person physically but also relates to the size of your personal universe and your ability to embrace experiences in life without losing your personal center. Jesus grew daily by his interactions with others in the world. Sometimes those others were Gentiles, persons that Jews despised and taught were unclean. Jesus grew by his encounters as he healed the daughter of a foreign woman and the son of a Roman soldier. Jesus told stories about Samaritans who were good, not something that most Jews would even say and he drank water with a Samaritan woman as he sat by a well, crossing many boundaries that Jews of his day would not cross.
We are challenged to imagine ourselves as persons of great stature as we lovingly embrace the pluralism of our time. As we deepen our relationship with God, we transcend the narrow parameters and fundamentalism that keeps persons separate because of their difference. We embrace our own stories as we enter into conversation with others who may not share our stories. We are constantly changing as we learn acceptance and love for others despite our differences.
Say to yourself:
I am continually growing in wisdom and stature.
I embrace diversity and complexity with love and understanding.
I welcome God's wisdom into my life.
I embrace God's call to grow in acceptance of others who are not like me.
O Holy God, like the Teacher of Nazareth, we commit ourselves to grow in your wisdom and stature. Awaken us to experience all creation as holy, and all creatures as companions on this good earth. Expand our circle of concern, and energize us to acts of mercy and justice. Let us, by your wisdom and grace, do something beautiful for you, O God. Amen