So, here we are – Christmas Day. The angels are no longer singing for any human ear. The shepherds have gone their way. We are left with Mary “pondering these things in her heart.” She had waited nine long months to give birth to the Son of God…the Savior of Israel and the world. Now, she has a baby on her hands and a child who will rely on her to nurse and nourish him. While there is no way that Mary could have known how much challenge lay ahead, especially in the last three years of her son’s life, she did know – for sure – that the baby she was holding had a destiny unlike any other person who had ever lived or would ever live. As she ponder things…what exactly was she pondering?
Could it be that she thought of how the birth of her baby who was miraculously the Son of God was going to change her life? As any mother will tell you, the birth of any child changes your life, but in Mary’s case she must have realized that in some way the vocation of this baby would involve her life, as well, and change the trajectory of life. After all, she had been chosen to bear the Incarnate God into the world, that had to mean that her future would be drastically different from what it might have been. Even though she had not yet received the prophesy of Simeon regarding Jesus’ incredibly consequential life and the suffering she will have to face (Luke 2:34-35) – that will be given to her on the day of his consecration and circumcision – she had to wonder just what being so intimately involved with Jesus, God’s Son, would do to the world and what this would require of her.
She knew from the history of her people that when the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – Yahweh who had made covenant with her people – worked in his world he used human beings to do his will. The stories were there for her to overhear at home of how the prophets suffered, the righteous were persecuted. Thus, she knew that no matter what being born into the world would cost her son, because he was the Son of the Most High sent to save his people from their sins, her saying yes to God’s will to be the mother of Jesus wasn’t a yes that was over with now that he was born. Saying yes to the presence of Jesus now born would mean a life-long YES to his presence, his calling, his destiny. In other words, her life was going to be found in his.
On Christmas Day – the first day of Christmas – as we settle down from the activities of preparation, from the excitement of being with family, and the exhaustion of a holiday, may we ponder things in our hearts. We are not called to bear him into the world, but to truly receive him in our lives. Before Mary could bear him, even she had to receive him miraculously. As we receive him spiritually by faith, however, let us not forget that receiving him – saying yes to his presence – is a life-long YES. It is a yes that involves us with him every day, every moment, and in every relationship and act or desire we every have. Just as Mary must have realized we too must realize for ourselves in a way far different from hers, but not any less real, that our lives must be found in his life and in HIM.
He must define our identities to us and for us. He must direct our desiring in us. He must deliver us from our sins and our false sense of who we are and how we should live. He must increase and we must decrease, because he came to enable us to find our true selves and walk the Light of Truth. Living in him and he living in us, we are then called to “bear” his light, his love, his truth, his holiness and grace for the sake of the world.