It’s the day after we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We look upon the creche and see a peaceful new mother holding her child with a proud father standing watch over them. Like all births that I can’t really imagine as a male, what I gaze upon too often disguises the exhaustion of Mary’s journey. The joy of holding a newborn does not erase the messy struggle of giving birth or alleviate the worry of this new mother. Like most new parents, Mary and Joseph had to be wondering what they were to do now.
I suppose that’s the point…figuring out what this birth means. This new and holy family has some time there in Bethlehem. Kings and shepherds and angels singing on high make appearances. But they all leave, leaving this new family to figure out what’s next. Mixed in with the joy of new life, there is uncertainty and anxiety about the journey ahead.
God born among us must mean something, but what that means can only reveal itself as the journey itself unfolds. One step at a time. One event or decision at a time. Mary and Joseph had to trust that the significance of this birth would only become known in moving on from Bethlehem and living their lives. So too with each of us. Christmas only begins with the birth of Jesus. If Christmas is to mean anything at all, we will need to find it in the events and decisions of our lives, in the journey itself.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and was the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.