What joy Mary must have felt as she gazed for the first time into the eyes of the child she had carried inside her for so many months!
The gladness that filled her heart is a gladness only a mother can know. And we can imagine her tenderness as she touched his tiny face and wiped away the tears from his little eyes.
The angel had announced God’s plan to her. The shepherds who came from the fields had told her of the angelic songs they heard in heaven. The wise men told her of the star that had brought them from the east to adore the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in her arms.
The Scriptures tell us that Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. What wonder she must have felt! Knowing that the eyes that gazed up at her were the eyes of her creator.
To see the face of God! This is the desire of the ages and the desire of every heart. The Old Testament is filled with prayers for God to reveal his hidden face. Thy face, Lord, do I seek! Let thy face shine on thy servants!
These prayers find their answer in the child lying in Mary’s arms. In Jesus Christ, God has come to bless his people. In this child he has made his face to shine upon all nations.
From before all ages, God destined Mary to play this part in salvation history. As the angel told her, she was “full of grace,” transformed by God’s grace to be the sinless mother of his only son. From before all ages, she was set apart to be that woman of whom, in the fullness of time, he would send forth his only-begotten son.
Mary is the mother of God! The mother of our creator. The first Christians called her Theotokos — “the bearer of God.” This is one of the great mysteries of our religion. As the Christian poet, Venantius Fortunatus, sang in year 600:
When the fullness of sacred time had come …
the creator of the world was born.
And being made flesh, he came forth from a virginal womb.
The baby cries, laid in a narrow crib.
The Virgin Mother wraps his limbs round about with swaddling clothes …
And she feeds the bread of heaven with her milk.
In the eyes of Mary and her child are contained all the mysteries of history and the universe — the great mystery that we celebrate in this season of joy. Christmas is the mystery of our humanity and God’s divinity knit together in love in the womb of Mary his mother.
What humility we find in our creator! To humble himself to share in our humanity. To come into our world as each one of us has come into this world — born of a woman. What love he has shown to us, that we might call him father and be known ourselves as children of God.
As we contemplate the face of our father, let us remember that Mary’s face was the first sight our Lord saw upon coming into this world. In this Christmas season and throughout the new year, let us renew our devotion to Mary. Let us turn our gaze to her as he did — with a child’s delight and expectation, with filial affection and trust.
Reprinted with permission from the December issue of Catholic Life Insurance magazine.