A Christmastide Reflection
All over the world nativity scenes are glowing with light. Millions of Christmas cards impressed with the visage of the infant Jesus. There is something about Christmas that touches the hardest of hearts.
There is something about the scene of a husband and wife and a newborn child in a stable, surrounded by animals and straw that awakens the deepest aspects of our humanity. Stirring us to secretly contemplate the divine, whether we know it or not, as we look in wonder at this now familiar, yet wonderfully strange scene.
Here is a child, a tender newborn that lies helpless in littleness. Relying on Mary his Mother, and Joseph as putative Father. Something draws us to this little baby. A mysterious divine power magnetizes men, women and children of every age to come to adore Him, to behold Him, to marvel at the mystery of the God who has become so approachable and convincing in tenderness. What heart can really dare resist?
The angel told the shepherds, “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12). The angel did not say, ‘You will find the child in the arms of Mary,’ or ‘In the arms of a man named Joseph,’ but “in a manger.”
For as much as Mary deserved to hold this child more than anyone else, and as much as Joseph held second and equal standing in the right to cradle this child in his arms, this child was no ordinary child. This child was God, and God belongs to all. Mary sacrificed extensive cuddles to set Him before all. Joseph stood back in wonder, leaving space for the shepherds to adore.
Spiritually we receive the message in this subtle gesture that Mary and Joseph do not want to hog this child, but they want to invite us to come to Him, to be with Him, to hold Him in our hearts and adore with grateful love. Smelly animals surround Him in the stable, so our sinfulness must not stop us from coming to Him. This Child is Jesus, Savior of the World. This Child loves us and will melt away our sins, our fears, our doubts. We must only come to Him and say not a thing. We must only come. We must only close our eyes with longing, and we will be there beside our little God who lies within the manger of our heart.
Every mother and father will eventually have to let go of their child – to life, to growth, to change. So many people, for many various reasons, never have a child: men, women, priests, nuns, monks, ordinary people, couples too. Little kids often play-act as fathers and mothers, perhaps treating their doll like a child — such children are much too small and young to have a real child. Some have had a child, and indeed still do, but not on this earth, since their child died prematurely in the womb, miscarried, or died in unfortunate circumstances.
Yet whoever we be, this little child of Christmas — this child is all ours. Let us find consolation in that and marvel at the wonderful gift of Jesus, our Savior, our God, our King, our Master, our Teacher – all these things, but who is also our child, our baby, and no one can take Him from us, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39). This is the meaning of the words, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” (Is 9:6).
He is not far, our little child, but within. He is our true Inner Child. We feed this Child with our devotion of love. A simple silent pause, a smile of recognition, a word of thanks, is enough to make this Child within us glad.
But sin hurts Him. The devil makes us think sin doesn’t exist. That sin is okay, that it doesn’t hurt anyone. But this is a lie. It hurts Jesus. It wounds the presence and life of this Child within us. Let us not sin. Let us come to Him in prayer, sorry and resolved to live anew for Him like a responsible parent, a little friend, a loving sibling.
Let us live for Him. Let us worship this Child. The desire to worship lies within us all. No human child can measure up, but this one does. This one is also God. Let us worship Him in secret, in the stable of our heart. There He lives and longs for us. Let us go to Him and learn what it means to live a life rich with meaning.
Come let us adore Him.
This article was originally published on the author’s personal blog (2018).