And Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. ~ Luke 2:7
The author of the Gospel of Luke does not record any words spoken by Mary when her son is born. Does she speak through silence? Perhaps Mary holds her newborn son close to the warmth of her heart after she “wraps him in bands of cloth.” I imagine Mary gazes with deep, unbridled love into the eyes of her child which he mirrors back to her. The love they share is a continuous flow.
From this beginning, the child grows in compassion and empathy. Bring the children to me he says, and he loves them. Jesus loves the sick, the poor, and the marginalized. He remembers from the stories his parents told that there was no room for them in Bethlehem when he was born. He has a soft spot (love) for those who are left outside.
What is love?
Paul says, “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Barbara Streisand sings, “Love, soft as an easy chair.” I like that but love is also very difficult. Mother Teresa wrote, “Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand. Anyone may gather it and no limit is set. Everyone can reach this love through meditation, the spirit of prayer, and sacrifice, by an intense inner life…”
Love is Mom putting a band-aid on our scraped knee and kissing it well. Love is Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies. Love is a lap dog. Love is a snowflake, always unique and universal at the same time. Love is the sun upon our faces. Love is a comfortable t-shirt. Love is tears of joy and tears of sorrow. Love is an old-weathered couple, sitting on a park bench, holding hands.
Love is infinite (1 Corinthians 13:8).
Rohr writes, “Jesus commanded us to love, so we know love is not just a feeling, since we cannot command feelings. Love is mostly a decision. Jesus did not say: When you get healed, love. When you grow up, love. When you feel loving, love. When you get it together and have dealt with all your mother/father/husband/wife/children wounds, then you must love.”
Mary holds her child and nurtures him. Love is the way regardless of our faith or lack thereof. May we receive God’s Love this Christmas and may that love flow through us into the world.
Blessings and peace,