lest we forget…

Have you ever witnessed something so funny that the irony of it didn’t hit you until hours later? I did…during the Children’s Christmas Eve Mass.

Jim and I were greeting at St. Mary’s, while the children’s program went on that proceeded Mass. The last thing that was to happen, was for Mary and Joseph to enter, with Mary carrying the baby Jesus. There was a flurry of activity…costumes donned…last minute instructions…calming of nerves. But at last, it was time for baby Jesus to make his appearance. As the teacher stood with the little boy and girl, portraying Joseph and Mary, the little girl leaned close to her and whispered something.

“Now?” asked the teacher. The little girl nodded, clutching baby Jesus tighter. “Can it wait? Can you just think about baby Jesus until we get through Father’s prayer? And then I’ll take you?”

The little girl didn’t look convinced but agreed anyway. So, off they went and safely delivered baby Jesus to the Nativity at the front of the church. As far as I know, they made on time to the restroom right after.

Jim and I, watching this scene unfold, had to laugh. Poor little Mary…what a predicament. Hold up the service or try to wait. Kudos to both Mary and her teacher for a job well done.

But this morning, during breakfast, as we replayed the scene aloud, having another good chuckle about it, the irony set in…Mary, our savior’s mother, fully human, with human needs of her own.

You know the telling of the Christmas story is such a beautiful one that sometimes, we are so caught up in it, that we forget.

we forget…about nine months of pregnancy…swollen ankles, morning sickness, aches and pains…no matter how joyous the impending birth is to be.

we forget…the four-day journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem—Mary and Joseph would have had to travel about 90 miles in four days, averaging a 2.5-mph pace for roughly eight hours a day.

we forget…walking into the manger, finding a spot among the animals

we forget…the smell…the noise…the discomfort

we forget…labor pains, with only Joseph to help her. She should have been surrounded by her female relatives.

we forget…that not long after the birth, Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus, fled to Egypt.

we forget…about the everyday, practical things: clothing, food, shelter, clean water, bodily needs.

When I look back on the Children’s Mass…with little Mary standing there, holding the baby Jesus, fighting back her own needs so that she could walk the length of the sanctuary and deliver Jesus safely to the Nativity…it makes the sacrifices that St. Mary made, all the more dear to me. Through her humanity, we are given the perfect example of how to act, how we are to care, how we are to love our Lord and Savior.

Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To thee do we send up our sighs mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

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