“You will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).
At family gatherings this time of year, nothing gives more joy than the smallest baby in the family being passed around, held, and cuddled. This tiny bundle of life delights old and young alike. New parents understand the Christmas story in a way that no one else can. It’s easy to see God in the face of a newborn. Again and again Pope Francis returns to the simplicity and the vulnerability of baby Jesus: “This is the enduring sign for all who would find Jesus. Not just then, but also today. If we want to celebrate Christmas authentically, we need to contemplate this sign: the frail simplicity of a tiny newborn child, the meekness with which he is placed in a manger, the tender affection with which he is wrapped in his swaddling clothes. That is where God is.”
We know how fragile newborn life can be. And we know that these tiny lives can still be lost, even with all the technological advances of our own century. But we also believe that God holds these little ones in his hands, even when we can’t. Our children’s lives are incredibly precious to us, no matter how old we are or how long or short a time they live. I recently watched a ninety-eight-year-old woman mourn the death of her son with as much grief as the mother of a newborn or the mother of a young adult. Our children are always our children. And all of them are God’s children and fiercely loved by their divine parent. If you have infants or small children in your family or among your friends, take time to delight in them in a special way during this Christmas season. And hold in prayer all those who have lost children and all those whose children suffer in dire circumstances.
—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis
by Diane M. Houdek