Sweet little Jesus boy …. We didn’t know ’twas you.


Just seems like we can’t do right;
Look how we treated you.
But please, Sir, forgive us, Lord;
We didn’t know ’twas you. 

Last Sunday night these were some of the words sung at our church’s Christmas cantata, part of the lyrics of the lovely song, “Sweet Little Jesus Boy.” Here it seems to me we have the great problem with humanity, with each one of us and all of us together. If only we’d known it was you, O Lord, lying helpless in the manger; if only we’d known, we’d have done right by you. We’d have welcomed you into a warm place, given you honor; as it was, it was left to the stinky shepherds and the illegal aliens who came from their far countries to offer you gifts.

If only we’d known it was you that was hungry, calling to see if someone could provide a little food; if only we’d known it was your rent that was due, or your electricity that was about to be cut off, Lord, we’d have been glad to pay that bill. If only we’d known, Lord, that you lay sick in the hospital, or languished for months in the nursing home, we’d have come to see you. If we’d known you were cold at night, far from home, we’d have welcomed you in. If we had known that it was your house our soldiers broke into, looking for terrorists, we’d have treated that family with a little bit of dignity. If we had known that you were the person with the funny name and the funny look, that we stopped at the airport and rendered under cover of night to a secret prison, we’d at least have provided you due process and a day in court.

But Lord, we didn’t know. How could we know?

When you were hungry, and we gave you nothing, and thirsty, and we gave you nothing, and you were homeless and we did not welcome you, without adequate clothing and we figured it was your own choice, sick and in prison and we did not come to you? How could we have known?

How could we have known that the least of these, the people we call ugly names, the ones we learn to hate and fear, are your sisters and your brothers? What can we possibly do to keep from making that mistake again?

How could we have known that the death that you died, was to reconcile us with these brothers and sisters of ours, a real and costly reconciliation without which our reconciliation through your blood to God is a fanciful illusion? How could we have imagined that you rose in power for their sakes, and not just our own?

How could we have known that the living God is the Savior of all people, especially those who believe? Could not one of your apostles have written that down?

How could we possibly have known that until we see you in every human being, we have not seen you at all?

Sweet little Jesus boy. We didn’t know who you was.

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One response to “Sweet little Jesus boy …. We didn’t know ’twas you.

  1. Too true. I loooooooooove this song. I wish it were more well-know. The 3 Irish Tenors do a fabulous version of it as well as Take 6.

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