Jesus, can I share my thoughts? I know we have a few more days left before we celebrate your birth but the gospel brings it up for reflection at Mass today. Seeing You in the crib brings tears to my eyes.
The tears of gratitude flow from the realization that You chose to experience our life…"he was like us in all things." On Christmas day the little ones will connect with You immediately when they see You as the "baby Jesus." The rest of us will approach You a little differently. Our stage of life finds some of us looking back with a loving smile. Baby pictures are wonderful! But then we need to move on.
The question You asked the disciples seems right to the point: "Who do you say that I am?" For me as an adult it is an awareness through the years of my deepening friendship with You. There certainly were moments of dealing with the truth of what friendship is all about and feeling I wasn’t carrying my part of the load. Oh, how I wish I could erase some things. These 79 year-old eyes have also known the tears of sorrow. For me growing up is closely connected with a continual reaching out in love to You, as well to all my brothers and sisters and lastly, to myself. Nothing wrong with the love and tears that I experience at the celebration of your birth so wonder-filled.
What keeps coming back to me again and again is the fact that my/our salvation could have taken place at the very moment of Your birth. But, no, You continued living , teaching, healing, forgiving and loving us. "You shall call His name Jesus, because he will save His people from their sins." What a joy it is to picture myself holding you as a little precious infant in my arms. The truth is that Your love lead You to die on the cross out of love for me. And, now, the embrace, the hug that I receive comes from You who chose to keep the marks of Your love in Your hands and feet and side. Now I think you understand where the tears are coming from. Thank you.
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is on the staff of Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center, Houston, Texas.