"When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them." (Lk. 2:15-20)In forgetting the meaning of Christmas, most have forgotten the reality of the Incarnation: that God came down from heaven and became man. He came to redeem men, but also to live among them, to be one of them.
During His time on earth, Our Lord taught us much about the importance of being present to others. His Love for man did not start at the preaching of His Gospel message in the beginning of His ministry; rather, it revealed itself in the joy of the Baptist in the womb of Elizabeth, in the hymn of praise in Mary's Magnificat, in the wonder witnessed by the shepherds in Bethlehem, in the beauty and majesty beheld by the Magi. Indeed, while we know little about the majority of His Life on earth (the thirty years of His Hidden Life) we do know that He was constantly present to Mary and St. Joseph. It should not surprise us then that two hearts were nevermore so united as those blessed hearts of Our Lady and Our Lord.
Yet, there were two other hearts that were closely united as well in that little home at Nazareth: Joseph's and Mary's. Theirs was a complete trust that stemmed first from their unshakable faith in God, and second, from their confident trust in one another. Mary was secure in her love for Joseph shown by her openness to sharing Gabriel's message with him; Joseph, likewise, was secure in his love for Mary, protecting her and the Child by his firm belief in the messages of the angels. In the home at Nazareth, their loving presence provided the firm foundation for the Son of God to grow "in wisdom and grace."
In a healthy marriage, one's love is secure and confident. It is constantly nurtured and attended to because the peace of the family depends on it. The marital relationship remains primary even after the birth of children, for it is from this stable foundation that harmony in the home rests. It requires patience and presence. To strengthen a marriage, each spouse learns to be physically, mentally and emotionally present to the other.
It is in being with the other, that we learn about the other. Just as the simple and sincere sought out Our Lord in the stillness and solitude, so too, one must push aside all noise and distractions in seeking out Our Lord in others. This Advent and Christmas season, give of your presence and rejoice in the love of Our Savior and those He has given to you.