Sunday, December 25, 2011

the better part

Warm, positive words.
Sacrificial acts of service.
Physical closeness and affectionate touch.
Quality time.

Every person feels loved more by one of those five "languages" of love than by the other four. We each love - and experience love - differently. Jesus is a person. He speaks His love most eloquently in sacrifice and service - but it seems that the love He desires most to "hear" is the language of presence. We think perhaps that He wants us to love Him through our behavior to others, our sacrifices for Him, our generosity to others - our acts of service. And He does - the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, the Anointing at Bethany, the Washing of the Disciples Feet..... And yet, when the Martha in us bustles about trying to do for Him, He states that "Mary has chosen the better part" by choosing simply to be with Him. She gave first priority (amidst all the bustle) to sitting at His feet and gazing at Him with simple love and undivided attention. She gave Him her time - generously - even under tremendous pressure to be "busy".

 It's His birthday. No matter how crowded the party, no matter how busy the day, no matter how much work must be done to pull it all off, no matter how many other tasks and guests pull at us, no matter what the expectations of those around us, make time for Him today. As Mother Teresa said, "If we're too busy to pray, we're too busy." Don't just squeeze Him in at the beginning or end of the day, don't just pay Him a half-distracted visit during Mass or services - really make time for Him. Ironically, God is perhaps the hardest Person to fit in to this busy day. We don't have time to pray today - it's Christmas! Ironically Christmas can be the most difficult day for finding time and mental space to deeply connect with Christ. If you drive over to your church after all the services are done for the day, chances are it will be empty. You could catch Him alone and really visit - the way it's hard to visit when there's a room full of people. Whether you pay Him a solitary visit today at His home - or invite Him into yours for some uninterrupted one-on-one time together - make that the most important item on the day's to-do list, even if the visit only lasts as long as the standard "quick coffee date". And don't feel pressured to chat His head off. Enjoy the comfortable silence of God. Those closest to us don't need a steady stream of conversation. Even if we don't feel "close" to Him, He knows us better and loves us more than those we do "feel" close to. So just be still - and know that He is God. And anyway, He's just a baby today. Newborns don't mind silence. They don't mind just being gazed at. Today, He is a baby. Don't let Him lie all alone in the crib in his first hours of life. It's for you that He was born! He's your baby. Truly. He's yours. Pick Him up. Hold Him. Look at Him. Tell Him He's beautiful and I love you. He's an awesomely tiny, wrinkled, sweet smelling newborn today. He's all peaceful slumber and bleary innocent eyes and helpless grimaces. Choose the better part today. Go be with Him. case anyone needs help 
remembering how ridiculously disarming
newborn babies are.....
how little.....
how sleepy.....

 ....or how awesome it is 
to spend time in 
silent adoration of an hours-old wrinkled infant.....

.....& how very, very weak and helpless they are....

...Or how they make faces like this -
 (perhaps even for Mary, Joseph & shepherds...
perhaps even for angels.)

The Mighty Jesus was once a somewhat goofy newborn. 
Tiny. So very sleepy. Oblivious.
A real, honest-to-goodness newborn. 

Not just the alert "infant" we see
gazing at us intelligently in the creche, 
or the Dignity holding up a steady head in His mother's arms -

but a floppy, deep sleeping, bleary-eyed newborn. 

O come, let us adore Him!