"And Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." ~Luke 2:19
As she was nurturing His body for the growth of infancy and for the love of childhood did she realize that she was preparing Him to die?
When she felt that first interior kick in belly swollen with His life, did she think about the nail that would fasten His feet tightly to the wood to redeem our sinful souls?
As she wrapped Him tight in the swaddling, held Him close in the dark damp cave so cold and nursed Him to fill his empty stomach, did she understand about His empty heart hungry for the love of the world?
When He suckled til satisfied and dozed in her arms while one last drop of milk slipped from the corner of His mouth onto the cold stone floor, did she see it as a foreshadowing of the one last drop of precious blood that would drip from His open side?
As His little chubby hand finally released her finger and He gave way to the deepness of sleep, could she feel the grip He would have upon the nail that would one day hollow his hand?
When she stroked His fragrant brow with a mother's tender love, did she picture the thorns meant to pierce that very spot in a vain attempt to mar His perfection?
As she finally set Him down to rest in the manger made of wood, did she know that the wood from which His resting place was made was the same wood from which His beaten and bruised body would hang until lifeless?
When she watched Him as He slept so soundly did she think about the last time His body would be taken from her arms and laid in another dark damp cave so cold?
And do we know?
Do we know that as we prepare our hearts and our homes for Christmas, as we shop and cook and clean, as we wrap and write and decorate, striving to make our hearts and homes a fit place for Christmas joy, that the same child who will be born within us will also die within us? Each time we carry our crosses of suffering, torment and shame, our crosses of sorrow, lament and pain, He dies a little more within us and we inch our way a little further into our own new life because of His death.
Be born in us, O Lord! Be born so that we may die to sin, to hate, to poverty, and to evil. Be born so that we may die to pride, to anger, to jealousy, to vengeance. Be born so that we may die to excess, to waste, to greed and to vanity. Be born so that we may live in Your love and die for Your love alone! Come, Lord, be born, live and die within us, your weak, fragile, tender, human hosts so that we may truly live for all eternity in the light of Your sweet and precious Love! Amen.