Babies are notoriously lovable. Jesus as an infant surrounded by Mary, his mother, Joseph, his foster father, shepherds and sheep within the setting of a manger evokes sympathy, empathy and an emotional outpouring that does not challenge us much. But Jesus grew up.
After a brief, dramatic flourish at His birth, Jesus disappeared from sight as completely as the Christmas decorations around the home. Unlike the decorations, though, He was not lying in a box waiting to be taken out, unchanged, and put in the same place as last year. Instead, he was growing and becoming strong, filled with wisdom, preparing for the public ministry that would follow His baptism.
This year, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on January 8, a scant fourteen days after the Nativity of the Lord was celebrated. That's not much time -- not a few of us will still have some Christmas decorations unboxed -- to go from a notoriously lovable baby to a man whose neighbors wanted to hurl off a cliff.
But that's the liturgical year for you. The baby swaddled in sentiment is the same Person Who would one day preach that He is the Way -- the way, the only way, to the peace and goodwill people treat like a Christmas decoration, to be safely preserved until next year, and no more real or substantial than a spun glass snowman ornament.