One of my very favorite images of the Baby Jesus and the Blessed Virgin is a painting by an Italian artist Roberto Ferruzzi entitled, Little Madonna. I know it by another name, La Madonna Strada, or in English: Our Lady of the Streets.
Through Ferruzzi's eyes we meet a young Virgin with a small boy on her shoulder seeking shelter. There is a soft pleading on her face. "Will you let us in?" she seems to ask. The Child is asleep on her shoulder, and I instantly want to whisper as not to wake Him. She is bundled against the cold, and the softness in her eyes makes you want to help somehow. The Woman and the Child are at the far right of the frame, almost in the door, at the very threshold of the house. It's a beautiful piece, one that always warms my heart when I see it.
I like that particular image because it brings the reality of the Incarnation home in a very "normal" sort of way. This amazing mystery of God-With-Us, of the Creator taking flesh from a Virgin and being born into our human existence as a baby, is made real by seeing the Blessed Virgin and the Holy Infant in a very normal and even vulnerable position. We are reminded of the greatness of our God Who doesn't shy away from humility in order to cross the abyss to rescue us from our sinfulness.
That mystery is what the celebration of Christmas is all about…it's the wonder of the Word Made Flesh coming to dwell among us that is the cause of our joy. When Christ was born, the angels sang. Can you imagine the rapture that the angels felt that caused them to sing? These are beings who are in God's presence all the time, yet this Child generated a song from the Heavens in happiness.
For me though, it's less about the Gloria in excelsis than finding room in my heart. For me, it is the very ordinariness of the birth of Jesus Christ that draws us in…the soft pleading in the eyes of the Virgin seeking a place for her Son that opens a door to our hearts in a way that could only opened by a babe.
As we welcome the Christ Child again these blessed days of Christmas, ponder the wonder of the Night That Changed the World.