As I spend time this Christmas Octave* in Bethlehem, in the small, dark, impoverished cave where Jesus is born, I am there gazing upon Him, adoring Him in the manger, along with Mary and Joseph. The shepherds are present, along with the heavenly cohort of angels, who sing hymns of glory to God for this GREAT mystery of the Incarnation, which brings salvation to men.
Jesus is truly there, I am truly there**, and am able to encounter the Divine Christ Child in a very personal way. Our hearts connect, our love is shared. My heart is exposed to Him as His is to me. And as I recognize His true presence, I am very quickly drawn to the fact that this same presence is here with us today in tabernacles and adoration chapels throughout the world. And, isn’t it the same! Just as only so few recognized Him as a humble little baby… so very few recognize Him today in the humble form of bread***.
Just as the cave in Bethlehem should have been crowded with all of humanity, because the Savior of the world had been born for us, to draw us back into our true dignity and identity as “children of God;” churches and adoration chapels should be over-flowing, to adore and worship our Savior who has chosen to remain with us in time.
And, so, I began to cry. Because I know. I have been revealed this truth of His presence among us, and yet, so few are really aware of it. I see now a humanity so hurting and in need, and I see the remedy, the sole solution to our pain, insecurity and longing… And, it is the love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ.
Not only can we contemplate the “birth” of Jesus through the hands of the priest, at every sacrifice of the Mass, but, for those who practice the Catholic faith, we can receive this Babe of Bethlehem who is our redeemer, deeply into our own hearts as we receive Him in Holy Communion. In this, the mystery of the Incarnation becomes manifest in us in a profound way. The Word is made flesh within our flesh. We become Christ’s presence in the world. We become His Body.
For those who are truly open and recognize these truths of which I speak, let us allow them to transform us and draw us ever deeper into the fullness of whom we are created to be. To the degree that we do so, is to the degree that we will be Christ’s presence in the world and bring His love to all those we meet.
+Heavenly Father, thank you for sending us your Son to draw us back to you. Jesus, thank you for coming into this world to save us and consume us in your love. By the power of the Holy Spirit may we all have the grace to recognize more and more the truth of who you are in this world today, Jesus. May we not be as the Inn Keepers, Herods and Pharisees whose hearts were closed to you and your Holy Spirit, but may we be as the simple and humble shepherds and wise men who were aware of their longing and need for you, and welcomed you in.
+Mary and Joseph, intercede for us, that we may be disposed to recognize and receive the Divine Christ Child into our hearts and lives as you did.+
*The Catholic Church celebrates Christmas Day for eight days, from Christmas Day to New Years Day (Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God), because the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ is so significant. The faithful are encouraged to reflect on the birth of Jesus with great solemnity during these days.
**By virtue of the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union (Jesus is fully human and fully divine), every moment of Christ’s life on earth was both inside and outside of time. Thus we are able to be there literally because every moment of Christ’s life is in the eternal “now.”
***It is no coincidence that Bethlehem means “House of Bread.”