As I thought about and looked at various representations of the nativity, I thought about the Holy Family. In Scripture, hymns, poems, etc., Jesus has been called all three, love, hope and peace. But, if He has to share the titles with his "parents", I think of Him as hope, hope of the world. I've been teaching in catholic school this year, and they talk a lot about Mary. Mary's love is stressed, her love for and obedience to God to do the unspeakable. Poor Joseph, talk about obedience and trust, this guy is the prototype, but, when you look at most nativity scenes he looks peaceful. Isn't that someplace we all want to get to, peace in knowing we have done God's will and that He is faithful?
I wonder, when you think about love, what do you think about? Is it that amazing, electrifying flame that ignites and unites you and your beloved? Is it that unbreakable tether you've experienced in a parent and child relationship? Have you seen love on the smudged and bloody faces of those who serve their fellowman, no matter how great the danger? Do we dare to call it love when we see a homeless person share his morsel with his pet, or hear of an animal rescuing its master? Is love so boundless that we can't fit it into a box, no matter how hard we try?
What brings you hope? This is what gives me hope: miles of headlights in my rear view mirror in early morning of folks going to work. College marching bands in bitter cold, who've spent time, effort and money to perform for crowds, who may use their performance as a time to hit the restrooms or concessions, give me hope. Seeing a stranger give an older person a place in the line at Wal-Mart, or offer a hand to the young mother with her flock gives me hope. When you look around, what in our world gives you hope for tomorrow?
Our first child died, but the next year our daughter, Mary, was born the week before Christmas. For several reasons, my pregnancy with Mary was stressful. When I think of peace, the first place I go is the first time I held Mary in my arms, and knew that she was safe and whole. Nothing can ever take that away from me.
When I think of peace, I drag myself through the hospital doors of an ICU unit where Mama laid, hooked up to all kinds of machines. We were called back from a long-awaited trip so the doctors could "pull the plug". Walking in the door, it was easy to see how fretful Mama was. I wrapped my arm up and around her head, put my lips by her ear and whispered, "It's okay, Mama. If you want to go be with Daddy, we'll understand. If you want to stay with us for a while longer, that's okay, too." Mama immediately calmed down, and God's peace flowed through both of us. What battle have you come through to find peace on the other side?
Dear Friends, I hope each of you will have a special time with those you love doing what you enjoy doing during the holidays. My greatest prayer for each of you is to experience hope, love and peace in new richer, deeper ways this holiday season. I pray that your lives are infused with all that Jesus came to live and die to give you.
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.