Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Third Joyful Mystery ~ The Nativity



This bright icon was painted for use in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, one of the oldest forms of Christianity in the world. The infant Christ holds the book of His teachings in His left hand. But the book is closed! Jesus' first intention is not to give us anything to do but simply to bless us with His right hand.

The two angels in the upper corners look at each other gladly, holding up the colorfully patterned backdrop to the Holy Mother and Her Son. Mary's maphorion (mantle) is voluminous - perhaps suggesting that all of creation fits under its great protecting folds. Jesus seems to sit comfortably in Mother's crossed arms. He is not a cuddly baby so much as a little man - always the LORD. And while he clearly looks to His Mother, she seems to be looking halfway between Him and us. After all, we are her dear children as well.

Why isn't there a manger scene to illustrate this Third Joyful Mystery? This icon is a perfect image for the Mystery of Christmas: The real light, which sheds light upon everyone, was just coming into the world. He came into the world, and though the world came into existence through him, the world did not recognize him. (John 1:9,10)

In her left hand the Holy Mother holds a decorated cloth. Is it her handkerchief? In her loving us she shares our sorrows, and where there are sorrows, often there are tears.




Our Father, Who art in heaven...

Mary hopes for a room in the inn to give birth to her baby. But this isn't where God should be born on earth. We might think a palace, a great shrine or church, a hospital for very important people, but not a motel. Travelers stay in motels. Perhaps the meaning is this: God is traveling with us through all the disasters of human history, the darkness of minds, the never-ending wars, the injustice that  we can't comprehend.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

A Virgin-Mother. Ha! Angels in the sky. Ha! A traveling star. Ha! Many people scoff at these things, mocking them and boasting of not believing. But this is all wrong! The only thing to be questioned is myself. And sadly, too many people never get around to doing that in any substantive way.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Bethlehem means House of Bread. This isn't just a detail with no purpose. But already I am being gotten ready for the Eucharist. I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no self-existent life. Whoever lives on my flesh and drinks my blood possesses eternal life and I will raise him to life on the Last Day, (John 53,54).

Hail Mary, full of grace...

We didn't invite Jesus into our world. We have always been content with the way things are. Before he was able to speak, his presence disturbed us. We wanted to be rid of him and so hunted him down and cast him out, to Egypt of all places. But again uninvited, he returned.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

As a boy, Saint Aloysius Gonzaga described the 16th century court life in which he was growing as full of fraud, dagger, poison and lust. How might we describe our own time? Full of empty laughter, false alliances, violence and an insatiable hunger for drugs. Did the tears of the Holy Child wash the world's sins.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

God came into our world as an infant so that we could get very close to him. God came into our world as an infant so that our first impression of him would be as one who comes without judgment and who wishes us no harm. God smiling!

Hail Mary, full of grace...

God understands a long time. Mary, like all mothers, held her baby in her womb a long nine months. It was a long donkey ride to Bethlehem. It was a long forty days fasting and praying in the desert. It was a long night Jesus spent in prison. It was a long walk to Calvary. It was a long suffering on the cross. I mustn't complain so much about how long my suffering is. God understands.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Even before he could speak, Jesus was teaching us from the crib of Bethlehem. And the lesson he taught was humility: the one who made the heavens and the earth was shut out from the inn where there was no room, finding a shelter in the cave with the animals. The Shepherds were his guests.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

God has made himself to be a child. And little children all want to grow up. Children like to dress up as adults. Children like to listen in on adult conversations. Children want to stay up late. And I want to grow up too: grow up in responsibility so that Christ may count on me, grow up in courage, grow up in love.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Salvation is for all. Saint Augustine wrote that the shepherds of Christmas were Israelites; the Magi were Gentiles. The shepherds lived nearby and the Magi lived faraway. Yet both came to Christ. Me too!

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Glory be to the Father...


Marigold ~ Mary's Gold

1 comment:

  1. This makes Jesus seem so real. I enjoy reading these relfections.

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