Today’s find: Innocents

If there’s an upside to a diminished sense of hearing, I suppose it’s this: One is able to tune out peripheral babble…and focus more intently on the profound.

I think I spied my 95-year-old mother engaging in just such a moment on Christmas Eve. Even as our “extended Schroeder Family” gathering rumbled and resounded all around, Mom seemingly found it simple to center lovingly on the babe she held in her arms – great-grandson Mateo, who at less-than-three-months-old, easily ranks as the youngest member of our clan.

My first thought, upon noticing the tender moment, was that Great-Grandma-Georgia sure hadn’t lost her touch. That little kid was in the care of an absolute pro.

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Our hearts are moved…by the faith-filled witness of your loving heart, Mom!

The blessing has only deepened for me in subsequent days though, as I’ve had the chance to consider its multi-generational import. Recalling, for example, one of my very earliest memories: How Mom once cradled another “Baby Mateo” – my brother Matt, when she brought him home from the maternity ward. I was just 3 ½ then myself, in August 1960, but the image remains vivid of Mom – finally back from the hospital, and with us tots again (where she belonged)… her love not diminished a whit, not even with a fourth young son to cherish.

Surely, G-G-G was present to something like this very same memory as she gazed into the eyes of her great-grandson – grace upon grace.

And I thought I detected the hint of deeper memories still in her recent Christmas moment: perhaps the gratitude of a Mother/Grandmother/Great-Grandmother who remembered herself having been mothered (and grandmothered) some 90+ years ago.

Grace…upon grace…upon grace.

This is the wonder of the Incarnation, isn’t it? Love come down, and passed around. Love, freely choosing to depend on us. Love, begotten not made – yet somehow consenting to walk with us, and dwell among us, and become intertwined throughout our generations.

What a contrast the infant Jesus, the ever-living Jesus, provides…to the brutality which we as church commemorate on this fourth day of Christmas.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under…

I note with sadness how Herod’s progeny persist in prowling about today – how, all too often, Innocents continue to pay the price…as the Powerful and Self-Centered work jealously to secure and retain their upper hand in our broken world.

But when I see G-G-G holding little Mateo, I feel a surge of confidence, too – a hope born of the strength found in the Innocents. If you think about it, the babes murdered by Herod actually modeled their young lives after Jesus – sparing nothing of themselves, in order that Love might live. And it’s not hard to see a formidable wave of that very same impulse flowing through my Mom’s 95-year-old veins even today.

Eucharistic people know that this is a strength which comes not from within. Rather, it originates in Christ – the One whose first bed on earth was a manger, the One continues to feed and bless every generation in our present day. And our grateful voices echo in reply, as the songwriter Paul Zach puts it so eloquently,

Even the hands that we’re holding you with
Even the eyes that behold
All that we have and we hold is your gift
All that we’re made of is yours
Give us the body and give us the blood
Give us the heartbeat and breath
Give us love…yourself.

(“Christmas Communion Song”)

Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.

IHS

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Today’s find: Innocents

  1. Fr. Jim Allen, OMI

    Great tribute to that lovely Great-Grandmother whom I’ve known for over 50 years now. And congratulations to Matt and his whole family.

  2. Mary Jost

    Thank you John.

  3. Steve Garrigan

    Beautiful thoughts, John. Since my feast day is December 26 (Feast of Stephen) it is no coincidence that the day after celebrating the birth of Jesus, we are so quickly thrust into the reality of where belief can lead us (and I’m stretching here) or as an premonition of what awaits the Christ Child.

    • Thank you, Steve. And yes, I think it’s purposefully mind-bending that we encounter both bliss and bloodshed in this Octave of Christmas. They’re all wrapped up in a single Paschal mystery, aren’t they?

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