Parenthood and family life are the crux of society. One of the few things that every human being shares with every other human being is that we all have a mother and a father—we all come from a family. At Christmas, God wants to remind us that the Holy Family is not a “pie-in-the-sky spiritual club” but a home for us all. This was made radically clear to me recently, and it has paved the way for a Christmas unlike any other.
Many say, “There is nothing greater than being a father or mother. The experience is unlike anything you could imagine.” I heard these words often during the months leading up to my wife giving birth to our first child in October. I listened in awe to the descriptions from family members, co-workers, and friends describing the details which surrounded the birth of their children. I took in what they said, but did not comprehend its meaning until the time came for our family to go from two to three members.
Benedict Francis was born at 11:53 a.m. after a long, arduous labor and delivery. My wife experienced much pain and discomfort, and I had little sleep. In the midst of it all, however, was a calm spirit rooted in the months of reflection on baby being a gift from God—and that God himself, in the person of Jesus, had once been this tiny, this vulnerable, this dependent on his parents, Mary and Joseph.
All of the details of Ben’s birth—looking at my wife in the moments tight after and holding him for the first time—have been placed inside of a transcendent time capsule in my mind. Ben is notGod, and we are not the Holy Family, that much is certain! But God was born of a woman and cared for by a human father. He was roughly the size of Ben, he cried and took his first breath just like Ben; he had all the similar needs and dependencies of any newborn.
How do we view the reality of the Incarnation at Christmas? How do we perceive the grandeur ofGod’s coming into the world? This year, let us be moved to encounter the baby born inBethlehem with renewed eyes by picturing the radical nature of his fragility in the manger.Reflect on how your parents look at you or how you look at your children and be mesmerized by the fact that God is gazing at us in such a way at each moment of our lives.
Ben’s birth was memorable, unique, and profound because my wife and I were bought into the scene and details which encompassed the event. If we apply the same mentality to the events of history, which our faith is made up of, we will be transformed by their concrete and life-altering witness. Picture each of your loved ones when they were infants, hours after they were born.Dive into the shoeboxes of old photographs to dig up the visual artifacts recounting the story of their birth and be amazed by the groundbreaking weight a child has on the human heart.
Advent often passes by in a blur and these weeks are filled with the hectic nature of the world we live in. Christmas is an opportunity to enhance the peace in our lives by reorienting our minds and hearts on the manger. Peer down at God made man, one of us, and catch his glimpse as he stares at your face and changes the world.
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Thomas Griffin teaches Apologetics in the Religion Department at a Catholic high school and lives on Long Island with his wife and son. He has a master’s degree in theology and is currently a MA candidate in philosophy. Follow his latest content at EmptyTombProject.org