Christmas isn’t only a Norman Rockwell painting of little children roping open presents while Mother takes the turkey out of the oven. Christmas can also be a season when the ache of loneliness rises up to swell the throat. It may be a day of conflict within families, a time when loss floods us in a fog of grief, a celebration that makes some feel outside in the cold when others seem cozily within.
Into this ache of earthly life, the Light was born. It was a painful morning. The first air that Jesus took into his tiny lungs was cold. Gnawing hunger filled his belly. He was separated from the warm body which had enfolded him, whose voice he had known, whose heartbeat had been so near. This new life felt apart and alone.
His mother lifts him to herself. She too shakes from the cold of the separation of birth. Perhaps she senses in his cry: “Hold me. Wrap me tight. Keep me safe. How could I have left the full glory of splendor to come into this finite space? This world is so dark, so cold…”
We have no idea about how much newborn baby Jesus knew or remembered. But we might wonder if he ever asked, “Could I just go home now, back into the warmth and never-ending circle of love in God?” But he came into our limited and broken world. He came—for us.
In the grace of this Christmas morning, tiptoe to the manger. Look into his eyes. He knows. You and I, we are not alone. He is here. That is what he burst into the world to do—to be Emmanuel, God with us. The darkness of our distress has become a holy night! The Word has become flesh and dwells among us.
Thanks to John R. Barker, OFM & Karla Bellinger in Living the Word