I’ve always loved Christmas – the season in which we remember our dear Lord’s birth in a stable in Bethlehem. As a child, it was thrilling to me to be able to stay up and go to Midnight Mass. We’d arrive extra-early to listen to our choir sing before the procession, when our pastor would hold a Baby Jesus high above his head before laying Him in the manger beneath the altar. I’d cry for joy to see this happen, just as I’d cry happy tears as we sang “Silent Night” after Communion every year.
When my older daughter was 2 months old, fourteen years ago today, I was teaching a religious education class filled with first graders, many of whom were not going to Mass regularly. Normally, I’d ask my mother to watch my baby girl while I drove over to the church for the afternoon to teach. But on the last week before Christmas, I brought a show-and-tell for the children to really “get” Christmas better.
I brought my baby.
I stood there before them, with tears welling up in my eyes (yup, I still cry every Christmas), and told them of how very much God loves them. “He loves you enough that He became a helpless, tiny baby. He was smaller than this,” I said as I cuddled my little girl.
“Imagine,” I continued, “that the God Who created the universe and everything in it became as small as this little baby. And once, at some time in His life, He was your age, too.”
That Christmas, the Incarnation became very real for me. I could really see what God had done, and I was blown away.
This Christmas, it’s become real in a totally different way. But this year, it’s because that same girl is the age our Blessed Mother was when her Son was born.
This girl. I see her as a child, but she is striving towards adulthood with all her might. But in many ways, she’s an innocent girl.
And Mary was like her once. My sweet girl – the girl I’m having a hard time letting go of so she can grow up – is about the age of the Mother of God on the first Christmas.
Again, I am amazed by God’s plan. His plan for salvation rested on the fiat of a young woman in a small town in Israel. All of Heaven held its breath as the salvation of the world rested on the answer of a peasant girl, a teenager in Nazareth.