Dear People of Saint Anne,
On the Christmas feast to which we draw near, Saint Luke in his Christmas Gospel, uses a very interesting image as he describes the action of Mary upon the birth of Jesus. Luke tells us that Mary wrapped the infant Jesus in swaddling clothes upon his birth.
Now, if Luke tells us that Jesus was swaddled, he wants us to understand something important. So, think about this: we Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God. We believe that he is God made flesh, fully human and divine. And that Jesus is swaddled. Which means that the God of the universe was willing to become completely dependent on someone else.
By being swaddled, Jesus is willing to enter into all of our experiences when we feel bound up by life. Jesus is willing to identify with all the moments in our life when we feel helpless, or unable to do for ourselves. Jesus is willing to be swaddled, because you and I often feel swaddled. When we were kids, we know that we are dependent on others – to feed us, to protect us, to make the bad dreams go away. So, when we are young, Jesus is with us in those moments of dependency.
As we grow, things happen in life which make us feel swaddled, or helpless. Like when we tried our best, but we didn’t succeed or get accepted. When we work hard, but don’t make the grade. When the person we love breaks our heart and there is nothing we can do to get them back. When our family is not what we hoped it would be. When addiction grabs hold of us. In those moments of hopelessness, Christ is with us.
Life binds us up and swaddles us at times. Like when an accident leaves us, or a loved one, unable to do what we used to do. Or when fears about world events or political tensions grip us with fear or frustration. Or when we are being treated unfairly, and there is no obvious way to change that. Or when we stand by the bed of a loved one as they take their last breath.
There are so many moments in life when we feel like our hands are tied … when we are tied up.
Perhaps that is why Jesus was swaddled as a child. Perhaps that is why God was willing to become fully dependent on Mary and Joseph. Perhaps the Christmas story has that tiny detail about the swaddling clothes because the Lord knows how often you and I feel swaddled and helpless.
And perhaps that is where we can begin to find peace, and hope. When anything or anyone binds part of our lives, Christ the Lord is standing right next to us saying to us: I am here with you, today, to go through whatever the challenge, difficulty or devastation.
The message of the feast of the birth of the savior tells us that Christ wants to undo what binds you, and heal what hurts you, unwind what grips you, and forgive what troubles you. The Prince of Peace wants you to have peace and our world to know peace.
On this Christmas of 2019, may you, your family and friends that you treasure, know the tender love, faithfulness and presence of Emmanuel – God with us wherever you need to be touched, healed or strengthened this year.
God Bless you and a Merry Christmas to all !
Father Bernie Pietrzak