By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published December 24, 2020
Each Christmas, as I see the little figure lying in the manger, I ponder the messages God sent us by entering our world as a baby.
I believe the first message is about the importance of vulnerability. The world touts strength, might and acquisitions, but Jesus said the meek, the lowly and the poor would be first in the Kingdom of Heaven. And who is meeker and poorer than an infant?
Jesus also warned us against hardening our hearts, which is a typical adult way of avoiding hurt. To draw nearer to God, we must tear down the walls around our hearts and become more vulnerable, like children.
My heart is moved when a child takes my hand as we cross the street, because the little hand in mine speaks of complete confidence and surrender. This reminds me of the baby sleeping in the manger, who was fully dependent on his parents.
He trusted they would protect him from cold, nourish him, clothe him. He depended on them to keep him away from the bloodthirsty King Herod. Let’s pray we can learn to trust God with every moment of our lives.
Second, that baby in the manger bespeaks the wonders of simplicity. After all, Jesus could have been born in a magnificent palace with elegant trappings, rather than a humble stable surrounded by lowly beasts.
As an adult Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” We often mistake riches and possessions for abundant life, but the life Jesus promised is so much more.
We tap into abundant life when we seek God in every moment. We find him in the slivers of morning sunlight and the shining smile of the moon. We encounter him in the eyes of a baby, the laughter of a child.
Finally, God became a baby to call us to protect innocents. Jesus was born into a violent world, just like babies are today. He could have been killed by King Herod’s soldiers, but Joseph took the family to Egypt.
Joseph and Mary’s baby was spared, but many infant boys, known as the Holy Innocents, were torn from their mother’s arms and slaughtered.
Today, babies are threatened by the voice of society that says they can be done away with. Each year, millions of these holy innocents experience death instead of birth.
Mary provided the Christ Child with safe harbor until his birth, but she didn’t do it alone. She needed Joseph’s love, she needed shelter, she needed safety.
We are called to provide for the women among us today, who are pregnant and poor. Like Mary, they seek a safe place and the knowledge they’re not alone.
Jesus emphasized caring for “the least of these,” saying that when we do, we encounter him. He mentioned the strangers, the thirsty, the naked, the hungry.
Isn’t every child in the womb a stranger who thirsts and wants nourishment? Who is naked and must be clothed? So when we protect the least of these, aren’t we caring for Jesus himself?
The words from the poem by Christina Rossetti echo in my soul. She wrote about the Christ Child: “What can I give him, poor as I am?” Her answer is simple: “Give my heart.”
This Christmas, let’s give Jesus a heart that is vulnerable and simple, a heart that cherishes the holy innocents of our world. Dear readers, may God bless you during this holy season!
Artwork by Jef Murray. Lorraine’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.