Matthew 5:3: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Poor in spirit: those who recognize their complete dependence on God. (USCCB)
Happy New Year to all of you! I pray the holidays found you surrounded in the peace and the joy of the new born Christ-Child. It seems that no matter what family problems we must face all year long, no matter how annoying fellow workers can be, no matter how much heartache we suffer at the hands of others, we can always find a place of solace and relief in front of the manger and the outstretched hands of the baby Jesus.
As it has been said before, there is something so profoundly humbling about seeing the wood of the manger cradling the baby Jesus, and realizing that prophetically it becomes the wood of the cross that hung Him for our sins. His little outstretched arms and reaching hands will one day be nailed to the wood and bleed for us. Yet, here He is, like all of us: trusting, loving, and reaching out. We can see ourselves in this little baby as we try to place ourselves in the world and at the mercy of those in it. Sometimes it works out just great. We find solid friendships and loving relationships just as Christ did with His apostles and disciples. Sometimes our efforts are rejected, scorned and even hated by those who don’t understand us or by those who feel threatened by us, like the holy men of Jesus’ time. And then there is the beat of life which takes us into situations over which we sweat blood and beg God to remove from our lives, just as Christ did in the Garden of Olives.
But for now, in the glow of the holy days, it is good enough to gaze upon the baby Jesus, to soak in His innocent love and reach for His little hands, to touch His little fingers, and let Him know we love Him, and we know He loves us. As we look at Mary with her eyes fixed on her son, let us remember to keep our eyes fixed on Him as well in this New Year, and as we study Joseph, ever vigilant and prepared to follow the messages of God, let us vow to do the same with our lives and the lives of those we love. Let us vow to keep our souls free from the dangers of the world and be prepared to flee from sin as quickly as Joseph fled with his family from the terrors of Herod and his army.
I have a little scene I like to play out in my mind as I study my nativity scene: The shepherds and kings come to the stable, kneel before the baby Jesus and look curiously at Mary. She smiles sweetly and says to them: “My children, meet God.”