I discovered Advent is a special time for pregnant women when two of my pregnancies were during this season. I really did identify with the pregnant Mary. For one thing I was relieved I did not go to the hospital, huge, uncomfortable and ready to deliver on the back of a donkey! I try to be grateful for big mercies. One Advent baby was born on Christmas Eve and the second, my youngest child, on Jan. 7, still in the Christmas season.
We had just moved to our new farm with a larger house since I was expecting our ninth child. The oldest children attended a small Catholic school with 10 grades from junior kindergarten to grade 8.
One day in December, the priest led an Advent reflection in the gym and asked the children,
“Who is waiting for the birth of a new brother or sister this Advent?”
Five hands went up.
“Oh, my isn’t this wonderful”, the priest exclaimed, “So many of you are joining in with Mary, waiting for the birth of a baby!”
Then a voice yelled out, “No Father, those are all Juneau kids with their hands raised!”
Mary must have experience what all mothers experience the moment Jesus was born, but I imagine her joy was even more profound as all the angels rejoiced around them.
As for me, I forgot my exhaustion and pain the moment I held my newborn. A surge of motherly love rose up in my heart combined with a sense of awe at the miracle of creation as I examined tiny, perfectly formed fingers and toes.
There was something about my baby’s open, trusting gaze that literally drew love from me. My newborn could see clearly for about 8″, just far enough to focus intently on my face. It was almost as if the initiative to bond came from my son first, especially when I consider his fierce hand grip as he clutched my clothing.To ensure that I fed him, he was born with a powerful rooting reflex and a cry that literally triggered the let-down reflex for my milk, soaking my clothes if I did not start nursing quickly enough.My baby did not even have a sense of himself apart from me for the first year, his whole identity was intricately entwined with mine.
I am sure Mary and the Infant Jesus bonded in a similar way. No wonder she is the Mediatrix of all graces.
God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy, so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.