Fourth Sunday of Advent
One of the most moving moments in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book The Little Prince occurs when the skittish fox begs the wandering prince, “Please—tame me!” And so the conversation unfolds:
“What must I do, to tame you?” asked the little prince.
“You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “First you will sit down at a little distance from me—like that—in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . .”
Why is this scene in moving to so many who know this book? Perhaps because we are wild, like the fox, and lonely, like the little prince. We, too, want to be tamed, by One who is truly greater, truly noble, truly free. We want to be tamed because we there is something in our collective human memory that recalls that, though we may now be wild, in the beginning it was not so (cf. Mt:19:8, Gen 2). There was a time when we, as Adam/Mankind, did not think of words as “the source of misunderstandings,” because we sought our life in the Word that spoke, and it was created (Ps 33:9). We yearn to be tamed because, like a lost pet, we have some vague memory of a time when we were not wild.
We are not mere pets, though, but God’s image and likeness (Gen 1:26ff). But this only makes our alienation more tragic. “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.” What an interesting petition: “make us turn to you.” It is as if we want to turn to the Lord, but also don’t want to, as if there is a war within us. And yet, deep down, what we really want is to be cornered by the Lord, to be overpowered by him, so that we cannot help but turn, because we know that that turning to see that face would be our true life, our true fulfillment, our true joy. God does not want things from us: “sacrifice and offering you did not desire,” skittishly offered by creatures looking to appease a distant God, before scurrying off into the darkness. No. God isn’t interested in a relationship-by-skirmish. God comes to us, he lets us see his face so as to “tame us” as it were, and to show us the way back to him. “A body you prepared for me,” Jesus says gratefully to the Father, revealing the way back to the One who loves us and wishes us to be “tamed” so as to be like Him: “behold, I come to do your will.”