Puer natus est nobis
Have you ever noticed how beautiful the hands of a newborn are? I was holding a new born baby recently and was struck by how lovely his hands were. But he is also strong. I was looking down at him in my arms and passed my finger over his palm, and suddenly he had gripped my finger tightly. The baby I was holding has been much longed for; the joy of his arrival was palpable in the family home, as now, at last, his parents have been given the gift we all so earnestly prayed for. Today we celebrate the birth of another child; eagerly longed for, eternally loved, earnestly hoped in. We can become all too overfamiliar with the sheer wonder of this child. He is truly God in the flesh. The creator has come to dwell in his creation. The Lord of space and time, becomes subject to its laws.
But Jesus is also a human being just like me and you. He wants to know the comfort of our touch. He need to be caressed, fed, and clothed, warmed and settled. He needs the presence of his Mother, she who knows who this child really us, to keep him safe. She knows those hands better than her own. She will gaze upon them, caress them, wash and clean them. She will take his hand into her own as he takes his first tentative steps. She will hold those hands close to her as she rocks him to sleep. Fall in wonder before the crib. Look into those eyes, speak with him, and give him the warmth of your love. Hear his mother inviting you to help her care for him. Hear her inviting you to touch those tiny hands. Come close.
But in time, these hands will tell a different story; leaving the security of his mothers care, they will reach out to bless, to rebuke the evil one, to heal, to feed. In time they will bear the marks of the nails. Pierced with wounds we simply cannot fathom; they will tell the story of our rescue, of his suffering and pain. They will speak of a depth of love unknown even to the greatest of earthly lovers. More incredibly still, these hands will be the means by which we know him risen from the dead. God’s own fleshly hands reaches out to us again, not from the manger this time, but from the empty tomb.
And what story do our hands tell? Do they tell the tale of our salvation? Are they moved to defend the unborn and the refugee? Are they eager to soothe with the balm of mercy or are they quick to rebuke? This tiny baby will teach us how to spend ourselves in love. From him, we will learn how to give of ourselves even to the end. From him we will hear the tale of how God has personally pursued us and we will experience the greatest love story in the whole world. Today we enter the stable again as the altar becomes the place where Christ is made truly, bodily, personally, present for us in the Blessed Sacrament. Come before him, kneel in adoration and know yourself loved beyond measure. Know that God is amongst us. Know that he comes to seek you out.