Nestled against Mary’s heart, her arms still awkward with first-time mothering, this newborn squirms against the cloth that binds him. He whimpers a bit, to which his young mother responds with gentle words and soft strokes. He hears her heartbeat intensify, a familiar sound to him, and his heart replies with a quickening of its own.
Mary draws in a deep breath, her body quickly remembering the soreness from last night’s labor. She flinches for a moment, fearing her sudden movement might disturb her son; yet he just frowns a little and settles into the curves and contours of her body all the more. It is as though he wants to bring comfort to her as much as she does to him, and slowly their breathing settles into each other’s.
Here begins the first day of the life of God’s Son, the first incarnate act of love between the Creator and created. Here the “exact imprint of God’s very being” rises and falls in breath’s intimate rhythm with humanity. Here the “reflection of God’s glory” can be first seen in the anxious eyes of a young, vulnerable woman who wants nothing more than to love her child well. In a few brief hours, the love of God-With-Us has already changed one life on earth.
At the birth of Jesus Christ, humankind receives the first indelible image of what God intends human love to look like—the love between mother and child. And from that moment forward, God-With-Us reveals how love can take hold of and change us for the rest of our lives if we dare, like Mary, to make ourselves vulnerable to God’s love that is unexpected and unimpressive in worldly ways. May we dare to love like this.
Creating God, in Jesus you show me how I am to love and to be loved. Help me pay attention. Amen.
The boy Samuel worshiped and served God from a young age. He grows in stature and favor, the same description that will later be applied to the young Jesus in this week’s reading from Luke. The psalmist praises God for raising up a “horn” for the people. This “horn” is referred to elsewhere in the Psalms as being the True King from the line of David, identified later by Luke (1:69) as Jesus. Paul encourages the Colossians to let love rule in their community and to praise God with songs and hymns (such as the Psalms). The additional readings for this special week focus our minds on the Advent of the Lord, the amazing truth that “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14), as the prophets had prophesied long ago.
• Read Isaiah 9:2-7. Where in your world do you see darkness? What lies within your power to dispel it?
• Read Psalm 148. How have you witnessed creation praising the Creator?
• Read Colossians 3:12-17. With what qualities from this list do you clothe yourself daily?
• Read Luke 2:41-52. When has a not-as-usual occurrence generated anxiety in your life? How was it resolved?
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