Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 15, 2003
Our task is to give birth to Christ
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
Mary wants imitation, not admiration
Birth, however, is only the beginnings of motherhood. Mary gave birth to a baby, but she had to spend years nurturing, coaxing and cajoling that infant into adulthood.
The infant in the crib at Bethlehem is not yet the Christ who preaches, heals and dies for us.
Every mother needs to give birth twice, once biologically and once in faith, once to an infant and once to an adult.
Finally, motherhood has still one more phase. As her child grows, matures, and takes on a personality and destiny of its own.
The mother, at a point, must ponder (as Mary did).
She must let herself be painfully stretched in understanding, in not knowing, in carrying tension, in letting go.
She must set free to be itself something that was once so fiercely hers. The pains of childbirth are often gentle compared to this second wrenching.
All of this is what Mary went through to give Christ to the world: Pregnancy by the Holy Spirit; gestation of that into a child inside of her; excruciating pain in birthing that to the outside; nurturing that new life into adulthood; and pondering, painfully letting go so that this new life can be its own, not hers.
And in this, Mary wants imitation, not admiration: Our task too is to give birth to Christ. Mary is the paradigm for doing that.
From her we get the pattern: Let the word of God take root and make you pregnant; gestate that by giving it the nourishing sustenance of your own life; submit to the pain that is demanded for it to be born to the outside; then spend years coaxing it from infancy to adulthood; and finally, during and after all of this, do some pondering, accept the pain of not understanding and of letting go.
Christmas isn't automatic; it can't be taken for granted.
It began with Mary, but each of us is asked to make our own contribution to giving flesh to faith in the world.
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.