I saw them only a few days ago. Daddy was holding his infant child close his chest and Mummy was gazing at the two of them. Their three pairs of twinkling eyes spoke the language of love, so innocent, so joyful, so uncomplicated. Eyes were speaking to eyes, hearts to hearts, as they shared peace with each other. Nothing needed to be said, nothing needed to be done. That precious moment was its own perfection, its own fulfillment, with even a glimmer of eternity.
As my eyes rested on the ‘love circle’ of this young family the phrase, taken from the musical “Les Miserables,’ ‘TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD’ () for me assumed a life of its own….GOD IS LOVE…nothing more, nothing less, GOD IS LOVE (1 Jn. 4.8)…LOVE - AN OUT-POURING OF SELF into the very being of another; to be loved is TO TAKE UNTO ONESELF a tidal-wave of love surging towards us from another. It is the wondrous being together with each other, for each other.
What I have just described probably takes place a million-fold, every moment of every day. As I put together these few thoughts for you I have before me the simplest of Nativity scenes depicting Mary and Joseph gazing lovingly at the infant Jesus, and He gazing lovingly at them.
St. John, the person described as the ‘Disciple Jesus Loved,’ wrote ‘Something which has existed since the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have watched and touched with our own hands, the Word of life -- this is our theme. That life was made visible; we saw it and are giving our testimony, declaring to you the eternal life, which was present to the Father and has been revealed to us.3 We are declaring to you what we have seen and heard, so that you too may share our life. Our life is shared with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ, ’(1 Jn.1.1).
In other words, after Jesus had risen from the dead and had appeared to the disciples John was given the Faith to believe that he had actually come into immediate contact with God whenever he had encountered Jesus. For John this was the awesome, literal truth.
St. Paul in his Letter to the Colossians helps us to understand how this could be so, ‘In Christ, in bodily form, lives divinity in all its fullness, in Him you too find your own fulfilment,’ (Col. 2.9). From this we must conclude that even the most minute, most insignificant, gesture of Jesus from the moment He was conceived in the womb of Mary, was of infinite divine worth, because it was performed by the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity – the Son of God, the Son of Mary. Mary and Joseph, from the moment they responded to the message of the Archangel Gabriel, would have believed everything I have just described to you. This was what the birth of Jesus meant to them and everything they did for Jesus, everything Jesus did with them, for them. I dare to suggest that it must have taken a special grace from God that their hearts did not burst at the joyful immensity of what they were experiencing in parenting Jesus.
Can you believe me when I tell you I am emotionally and spiritually exhausted after composing this reflection. I simply need to gaze at, gaze into, the beautiful Nativity picture I have before me and allow it to speak to me and to engulf me.
My brother Isidore OP and I send you this Christmas Message, with our love and blessing.
Peter Clarke, O.P.