For some reason, I have long held a fascination with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Particularly at this time of year I find myself thinking about her, wondering what it was like to be her, to love a child who was also God.
Yesterday, while I was in church, I had a sudden feeling of affection toward Jesus that was unlike any affection I’d felt for him before. From the time I was a child, I have known Jesus to be my closest, most trustworthy, soul-friend. When I was in my late teens, I grew to have an affection for him as the lover of my soul and my one-day bridegroom. But never before have I felt love for him like this–I found myself feeling love for him as a mother for her child.
I could almost picture him as a baby in my arms, utterly dependent on me. Now, I know that this goes against most of what we’re taught in church–Jesus is Almighty; God, as trinity, is self-sufficient; He doesn’t need us, he simply chooses to use us for His glory. And yet, I think that something is missing from that picture.
In Matthew 12: 46-50, it says:
While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”
As I read this now, it occurs to me that maybe Jesus was saying that we all get to play these roles in his heart–just as we all get to experience friendship with Him, perhaps we all get to experience him as sibling and child as well.
An article by Deacon Keith Fournier on Catholic.com says about this scripture:
This passage reveals a framework for an authentically human and relational spirituality, a spirituality of communion….This interchange was recorded for all time for a purpose. Through it, Jesus teaches us something about the interior meaning of our personal redemption, the redemption of the whole human race and the redemption of the entire created order. The message is simple but profound; God is a God of love and relationship. He has invited us into an intimate and eternal communion of love.
Could it be that God’s love extends so far that He lets us love Him and minister to Him just as He loves and ministers to us? As a mother of human children, I know that I will always have a special place in my heart for the infants that my children once were. No matter how old they grow, I will always love the baby that I held in my arms, that looked up at me with total dependence. I think that perhaps Jesus allows us to love Him not just as the man who healed the sick and cleared the temple and died on the cross–but also as the baby who laid in his mother’s arms, as the toddler who played in Joseph’s workshop, as the boy-becoming-a-man who stayed in the temple for days to talk with the scholars and was surprised that his parents were worried about him–just as most impetuous twelve-year-olds are clueless about the world from their parents’ eyes.
I don’t know about you, but I want to know Jesus in every way that I can–I want to know Him as God, and as a man, and even as a child. He is altogether lovely, and I want to learn to love Him in every possible way that my human heart can manage. And now, during this season when we celebrate His birth, I am learning–just beginning to comprehend–how to love him as the squirming, squalling baby that arrived in a stable to be Savior to us all.