And Blessed is the Fruit of your Womb, Jesus
In the poverty of a stable, without any pomp or grandeur, God broke into the darkness of the world hidden in the vulnerability of a little baby. The entire cosmos was filled with the splendor of divine light, and the destiny of the whole human race was radically changed! Creation shouted for joy, a wonderful star appeared in the sky and a choir of angels announced the Good News to the humble! How sweet and sacred was that Holy Night that saw humanity and divinity united forever! Bending the knee before the baby in Mary’s arms, let us gaze without fear at the very face of God… and be healed!
The best memories I have of Christmas, are, of course, when I was a little girl. Since my tender years, I loved to sing cute carols to Baby Jesus at my aunt’s humble house. Every year she would faithfully arrange a simple but beautiful nativity scene just to bring joy to the neighbors. In the evenings we would gather around the crèche with other children and happily make a joyful ‘noise’ with castanets, tambourines, and handmade musical instruments while singing (very loudly) to Baby Jesus. Afterwards we would light up “roman candles” that spawned silver fiery stars and would jump up and down until the candles would die down.
One year, however, on the night before Christmas Eve, a powerful earthquake destroyed the city. Our beloved nativity was shattered and lost in the rubble of my aunt’s house. That night we suffered greater losses than that, which broke our hearts and changed our lives forever. Since then, little by little, Jesus has been putting together those broken pieces of my heart and making me more humane and compassionate each day. It was then that I realized that apart from all of us grieving during Christmas, the rest of the world continued their celebrations oblivious to our pain; something I had been guilty of many times before.
Similarly, many in Bethlehem were immersed in superfluous distractions while Mary and Joseph searched with expectation for a room where the Son of God might be welcomed. Finding none, Mary gave birth to her first-born in a stable, because “there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7) She wrapped her baby in swaddling clothes and tenderly laid Him in a manger. Sleeping peacefully in that first earthly “pyx,” where animals were fed, Jesus gave the world the most eloquent and sweet message on the Eucharist, and the greatest ever about love and humility, but people were too busy to recognize the Savior.
How about us today? Are we too busy to welcome Jesus into our hearts? Do we recognize Him in the face of every person He came to redeem and restore, especially the poor, the sick, the needy, the abandoned? Or are we too entertained by the allurements of the world to adore Him in the Holy Eucharist? Jesus’ birth in poverty and simplicity should help us understand the message of Christmas and temper our fascination with consumerism and self-indulgence.
I pray today that our eyes may be opened to the new life God wants to give us even in the middle of sufferings and difficulties. Let’s not be afraid! This Child has come to make us free, to give us joy, and to satisfy the deepest yearnings of our hearts! Little Christina understood this well. Embracing her own sufferings with trust, she then focused on giving others the best gift ever: JESUS!
Today, singing with the simplicity of children to the baby in Bethlehem, let us gently kiss Jesus’ forehead, which will receive a crown of thorns. With reverence, let us kiss His precious little hands and feet, which soon will be nailed to a wooden Cross. Bowing down, let us adore Him, humble and vulnerable not only in the manger, but also in the Holy Eucharist, for it is there that He offers us the fruit of the Tree of Life planted in the Garden of Eden and made fruitful at Gethsemane. He has come as the fruit of Mary’s womb to be with us, to feed us, and to show us the way of love.
Today, on His birthday, may we receive Jesus through Holy Communion with clean and blameless hearts, so that, as in Bethlehem, He may rest peacefully within us!
Come, Lord Jesus, I trust in You!
Sister Marta was born and raised in Managua, Nicaragua. Early in life she experienced an earthquake which claimed thousands of lives and destroyed her hometown. Later, political unrest, Communism, and persecution, especially of young people, caused her to migrate alone to the USA where she met new challenges. After a family tragedy and deeply affected by these adversities, Sister Marta began an inner search for answers to the mystery of life, suffering, truth, and the deepest yearnings of the human heart. She found the answer in Christ. By Divine Providence she met (and joined) the Secular Franciscans in Fresno, California, in 1994, and later, the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master where she discovered, with joy, an undeserved call to the consecrated life. Although a late vocation, she was admitted to the Congregation in 2000. Today, Sister Marta serves the Lord and His Church through her ministry at the Archdiocese of Boston.