Lord Jesus, Our world is so troubled! Forgive us for neglecting you and your Father’s direction for us. You told us not to kill, not to commit adultery, not to do so many things, and our world flaunts your direction. Have mercy on us!
You told us to Love One Another, and we neglect to do that. Help us!
Lord, Have mercy on those who are homeless, anxious, troubled…
Lord, Have mercy on those who are sad, alone, grieving…
Lord, Have mercy on those who are addicted, confused, misdirected…
Lord, Have mercy on those who want to help others to find hope, direction, joy, wisdom…
Lord, please help us at Elizabeth Ministry and RECLAiM to reach those who need You in their lives: our RECLAiM students, Elizabeth Ministers and chapter leaders, diocesan, parish and church leaders, parents, families, single women and men that they may develop chaste habits of life and all who are re-learning chaste habits of life. Lord, help our donors to be generous, that we in Elizabeth Ministry may reach further into the world, to serve you!
And, Lord Jesus, Bless those who join us in prayer!
The Mystery of Christmas
I know, I know! You’re saying, “But we just started Advent! Why is she talking about Christmas already?”
Here’s the deal: You hear from this blogger only the first Monday of each month. This is my one and only opportunity to share some possibly unique thoughts about womanhood and Christmas!
We all know the passage from the first chapter of the Gospel according to John, “He [Jesus] came into the world, but the world knew him not.” Of course there are different translations, but the thought is there.
Visualize Jesus coming “into” the world in the same way as a baby comes “into” the womb of a mother. However, Jesus’ conception was totally unlike most conceptions: Jesus was born without the seed of Man. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶ 496) Jesus was born of a virgin. Just as easily as he passed from the sealed tomb after His resurrection, or into the locked upper room to meet His disciples, Jesus entered into the womb of Humanity, into the womb of the Blessed Virgin, Mary.
The coming of Jesus “into” the world uses the language of sexual intimacy. Passages in the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, speak of one [male] coming “into” [a woman], “and she conceived.” (Various scriptures, especially Gen 16:4, Gen 30:3-4, Gen 38:2,9,16-18, Ruth 4:13, are often translated, he “made love to” or “had intercourse with,” or “slept with” a woman, but the older Douay translation less delicately but more graphically has “went in to her” or “went in unto her”.)
Similarly, to “know” a woman is, semantically speaking, to have intercourse with her. Several biblical phrases also read or are translated, “he knew his wife and she conceived.” (Gen 4:1 KJV, RSV, Douay) Perhaps John’s thought (chapter 1) is that, although Jesus came “into” the world, the world’s rejection of Him [“knew him not”] was tantamount to an intended abortion! Jesus was intentionally rejected. (How important it is that we, in our time, not do the same!!!)
The Letter to the Hebrews 2:17 describes Jesus as being a man “made like us in all things,” and “one who would become a merciful and faithful high priest.” Jesus wasn’t made as Adam was, all at once from the clay or dust of the earth; Jesus was born of a woman, born as an infant, as we know in the Christmas story, and grew into manhood, gradually, “as one of us.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has some interesting comments and reflections: [Jesus was] “anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples. Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.” (CCC ¶496, Acts 10:38) [Emphases mine.]
Why is it that Christmas is such an emotional time for women? (OK, other than being overly busy!!) Undoubtedly it’s that we identify with Mary. Whether we have given birth, have never given birth, have perhaps miscarried a child, are unable to give birth, or have never had the opportunity of giving birth, each of us women is 100% female. Every cell of our bodies identifies with Mary; she is one of us, even as her Child is one of us, born from her body. However, each of us women has her own set of experiences, many of which are related to our sexuality. Some of these are positive; often many are hurtful, painful or negative.
It is perhaps no wonder that Satan attacks mankind by promoting all that destroys healthy and holy sexuality: illicit sexuality, pornography, abortion, and so on. Equally, I believe, Satan attacks women, especially at Christmas, by attempting to steal from them the joy of womanhood. As women, we are one with the Mother of God! As women, we are chosen vessels, capable of fecundity, physically, emotionally, creatively or otherwise!
So how do we as women relate to and care for other women at Christmastime?
As Jesus came into the world, and as he matured, we could never consider Him saying, “Look and see what sorrows I have! I was sent here to die a miserable death, with intense pain and horrible anguish! There could never be anyone born who has to suffer as I do! Life is so unfair!! Oh, woe is me!!”
Instead, Jesus looked for, saw, and ministered to the needs of all around him. He lived LOVE! He never looked at his own sorrow, except perhaps at the Agony in the Garden, when he was overwhelmed with fear, which also made him “one of us”!
Certainly life is difficult. Life has a way of draining the joy from our hearts. Living like Jesus means opening our eyes to the pain of those around us, focusing on others, those who have less: less companionship, less “giftedness,” less joy. Less hope. But, can we put on LOVE as Jesus did? Jesus showed us the epitome, the embodiment, of humanity even as he lowered Himself to take on our humanity. Are we able to look–as Jesus did–at the needs of others, especially the women, around us rather than at the concerns and grief that “I” carry?
The One who came to be “one of us” invites us to be one with others. We know this. Perhaps this is the Advent, the Christmas, and the new year when each of us is more open to share with other women the gift of our womanhood.