Read Luke 2:15-20
When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing... Read More…
Meet Sister Barbara Metz
Sr. Barbara Metz is a member of US Sisters of Notre Dame East-West Province. Read More…
Often when we pray, we are drawn to a particular word among the many words in a Scripture narrative. In this beautiful and familiar Christmas story which is our Christmas gospel, my point of focus immediately becomes the manger. The shepherds had been told where to find the child and, when they arrived at the location to which they were directed, they found him in a manger. The simple, poor dwelling of this child of promise did not seem to be an issue at all for the shepherds. They adored him where they found him.
We too, are called to adore the God of our lives where we find Him. We have mangers in our lives where divinity dwells. They are situations of poverty and simplicity where we could so easily miss the gift hidden in ordinariness. For example, our mangers could be a misunderstanding, a disappointment, a loss, an encounter with a stranger, a change in nature or our health. We are invited to have a contemplative attitude toward all that we experience moment by moment. Contemplation has often been defined as taking a long, loving look at the real. What is the reality of my life at a given moment and where is God in that experience? Ican only answer that question by dwelling with the experience of the moment.
For example, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes with great insight about the loss of loved ones and the finding of God in the pain of loss. “Nothing can make up for the absence of someone we love. It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap; God doesn’t fill it, but keeps it empty and so helps to keep alive our former communion. Our hearts, in our pain of loss, stay open and vulnerable to those random, tender, sacramental moments that were ordinary enough when they happened, by exquisitely piercing when remembered.” The manger of loss is a place where we meet the child of promise.
We long for the disclosure of God in our lives. God emerges repeatedly from within things and situations. He is in all and with us in every experience. Our relationships are the sacred ground of our encounters with the God of our lives. We belong to one another. We come forth from the same love of God and that love flows through us all the days of our lives. Can we see it on the face of one another and experience God in our interactions, even our painful ones?
Ilia Delio writes, “Wisdom is knowledge deepened by love. It is found in the experience of the sacred and in the inner heart. It brings to light the depth of things in a way that both reveals and veils the divine mystery.” What has pain taught me? What has been the most recent manger in my life, the place of pain or poverty, which, upon reflection, has been a place where God is dwelling and leading me to a new depth?
On this Christmas day, when we are praying with images of divinity in the midst of tremendous simplicity and poverty, can we let ourselves grow more aware of what the Incarnation really means? God is at the heart of all reality and divinity shines forth from all of life, from all in the cosmos.