Christmas Presence

Mary and Joseph must have been very tired after the birth of Jesus. The long journey to Bethlehem from Nazareth was no doubt exhausting.  All the commotion surrounding the census must have been nerve-wracking, and the anxiety of finding a place to stay and birth the baby would have been very stressful.

After the birth, Mary and Joseph had to open their temporary shelter to visitors of all kinds – shepherds, the Magi, curious passersby – and very likely at all hours of the day and night. 

During this week between Christmas and New Year’s, many of us will be visiting others or receiving visitors.  The pre-Christmas preparations and the activities of Christmas Eve/Christmas Day may have left us exhausted.  Although we dearly wish to spend time with people we love, some of whom  we only see at this time of year, we wonder sometimes how we will manage – how will we get through the afternoon or the evening without our fatigue showing?  And on a deeper level, how will we get beyond the conversation of “catch-up and chit-chat” and be really present to our hosts/guests, in a way that will allow the light of the Christ-child to shine?

In “Fresh Bread and Other Gifts of Spiritual Nourishment, author Joyce Rupp gives us the following prayer, inspired by the Blessed Virgin’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth after the Annunciation.  I hope it will be a source of strength and inspiration to any readers who may be battling fatigue, yet dearly wish to make themselves available to friends/family/strangers during this Christmas season: 

A Prayer for Hospitality to the Mother of Jesus  

“Mary, the quality of your visit to Elizabeth draws me to prayer.  You teach me so much about welcoming others and of being other-centered.  You hurried quickly to where the need was.  You thought of Elizabeth.  You gave her joy, hope and promise, or rather, you allowed the Lord to do all of that through you.  You believed in the promise made to you by your God.  Is that why you could give and share, and visit the way you did?  You touched Elizabeth’s spirit and she felt the goodness of God in her life.  Mary, you understood so well God’s great love for you.  You trusted him so totally.  Your welcoming presence met Elizabeth and she cried out in recognition of the fulness of God within you.

Mary, dear woman of God pray for us, that we can be spiritual people of quality, of promise, of welcoming presence.  Help us to be full of hospitality, welcoming the Christ in all and allowing the Christ within us to be met and visited.  Amen.”   


5 thoughts on “Christmas Presence

  1. A beautiful reflection and prayer…and when inviting strangers we may well be entertaining angels unaware.
    Being present to Jesus in others is so important and having Jesus recognised in us gives us a dignity and a sense of who we really are.
    Even in Mary’s youthfulness there was such wisdom and reaching out that we cannot fail to be inspired by her ‘doing’ as well as her compliance with God’s will for her.
    Thanks, Gabrielle.

  2. Thank you for these lovely meditations, G!
    One thing in life I appreciate is privacy..time to be alone every once -in- a while throughout the day. I happen to be a caregiver for an elderly relative who incessantly talks and chatters…always did. Just his way. If he finds silence around him for more than 15 seconds(no exaggeration) he has to say SOMETHING..even if it is to hum a few bars from the march from Aida! This can make rides to the doctor rather tough on one who loves silence. I can sit with a person and enjoy their company when there is a space in the conversation. But..I find that it is part of what I have been given to do, and I am learning to give as well as find these noisy times as fodder for prayer in the midst of it all.
    As I read this reflection, I thought of how Our Lord literally had to ‘head for the hills’ when He wanted His quiet . He was surrounded by noise , smells, and pressure to ‘do’ ALL THE TIME. Yet he gave of Himself and found His Father in the midst of it all as well as in the retreats.
    Then there was the Holy Family…Joseph must have yearned for his privacy after the journey and birth.
    Our Lady..throughout Her life…must have been swamped with tasks keeping up with the young Messiah and trying to protect Him.(imagine Him as a 2 year old human..yet w/o sin) Such energy she must have required. Such serenity She maintained! And then later on throughout His ministry and after Pentecost…She must have been swamped with visits as the Mother of the Savior.
    I appreciate my quiet time, my silence, my moments of quiet reflection and communion with my God, but ….somehow… Gabrielle has reminded me in this post that I can find Heaven in the noise as well as the quiet when I am required to do so!

    Holy Family…..pray for us.

    A prosperous and healthy New Year to All!

  3. In a stable (or at any rate, the outer room the Holy Family was given), at least neither of these holy people had to know there was anything illicit going on around their holy Infant. Animals, comet, hay, earthly parents.. all of purity.

    Yes, Magi.. but very tired, tearfully thankful Magi. And.. ever been breathed on by a hay-munching critter? It’s clean. And warm! And could the shepherds (the poor) have gone to an inn to see Him, the Good Shepherd of the world? Could we have known how much God loves the poor, if not for that preferential showing of Him?

    There was holy solitude side by side with hardship there in that hard spot in Bethlehem. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I thank God there was no room in the possibly noisy, beery, jocular inn.

  4. When traveling during this season I found that most people were kind and generous to us wherever we stopped. I found it exhilarating to see the man helping my husband try on a pair of shoes on one knee with a smile on his face and a kind word. I know that it is not like that all the time when we are out and about during the Holiday, but for some reason this year I was seeing it in a different light. I felt welcome. Perhaps that’s the lesson of the stable. No matter the circumstances, say “You’re welcome!”

  5. I find it so interesting how each of you can take something different away from this post, based on your own experiences, recent or ongoing. This is a bit of what I meant in the William Kurelik nativity painting post, about how Jesus and the nativity story touches everyone intimately, personally, as does all facets of His life.

    Thank you all so much, and teresa anawim, so good to have you drop in. We miss you! Have a blessed New Year!

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