Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 16, 2012

Today's text

Now it happened that at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be made of the whole inhabited world. This census--the first- took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee for Judaea, to David's town called Bethlehem, since he was of David's House and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the living-space (Luke 2:1-7).


Old photos float across my computer screen. Every few seconds a new one appears. Today, I see Rachel, my daughter, riding on a merry-go-round.

She is not a child but a mother. She stands beside a wooden horse looking down on a dark-haired little boy whose face is electric with wonder. Ethan is two, and life is new. Each fresh experience awakens his tender soul to the startling joy of being alive.

Older eyes grow jaundiced, having seen it all, the exhilaration of living, sadly, worn off. But not these eyes. These eyes are alive to the wonder of living, filled with joy that it can be so good.

But he is not most the arresting face in the photo. That accolade belongs to Rachel, who looks down at him, her gentle eyes and smile filled with a love she probably didn’t know she could feel until she first felt the stirring of new life in her womb.

She transports me to the manger. Hers are the eyes of Mary, the eyes of a mother moved beyond words at the miracle of bringing forth new life and cradling it in her arms.

Our eyes are hungry for Christmas. We need to see it … to feel it. We need Christmas to fill us with the miracle of the love that shines in Rachel’s face. We need it to come and transport us beyond our world-weariness and re-awaken the joy of the little boy in this old photo.

So we come to the manager, open the eyes of imagination and watch Mary pick up her child. She wraps him in strips of cloth, not because she is poor but because she loves him more than she has words to say.

We look again into her eyes and see shining there a love beyond her own, the love who brings Christmas, the love who hungers to fill our souls and make our hearts supple and new once more.

Mary wraps her child and looks down into his sleeping face. We’ve seen such scenes before. So look again with the eye of memory and imagination.

See the heart of God nestled by a human heart. The sight will awaken you to the wonder of the Love who humbly comes, resting in a donkey’s feed box, swaddled in human love, hungry to be held … by you.

For prayer and reflection

  • What thoughts, memories and emotions did today’s reflection awaken in you?
  • Where do you see and feel Christmas re-awakening your heart this year?
  • Remember a Christmas when you wanted and needed your heart to be made new. What happened?

Another voice

Silent Night, holy night! All is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin mother and child. Holy Infant so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.
(“Silent Night”, text: Joseph Mohr, music: Franz Gruber, 1840)

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