“Seek joy in the saddest places. To watch. To try and understand. To never look away.” (A.Roy)
Father James Martin, his teachings and writings, has introduced me to the human Jesus. As a child attending church, I thought of both Jesus and God as entities watching us from beyond. It wasn’t until Martin’s literature that I learned of a Jesus who grew up with the similar frustrations, loves, questions, and challenges as you and I. And that is when I really began to love Him and truly become involved in His story as it happened historically. It has helped me grow in faith at a time when I needed it the most. While never forgetting Jesus’ spiritual power and strength, I appreciate Father Martin’s scholarly yet simplified interpretations of Jesus’ stories and those of the people He encountered during His time on earth.
Likewise, His little family of three, that nucleus of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I am drawn to as well.
Mary, the ultimate mother, is a woman of such strength. To see her as only the virginal, very young woman, often caucasian, without a voice, is beyond my comprehension. I have often prayed to Mary and honestly, I need to speak with her more often. She makes you beg the question, “who were and are the Marys in your life?”. Those persons who support you no matter what, yet give you the kick needed when self pity doesn’t become you. Who instills the security within you to take that next big step whenever it may be? I have had and have so many.
My mother always spoke of Joseph with great admiration as did her own mother. They saw him as a most patient and understanding man. And he is a saint, my favorite, who has been recently described by Pope Francis as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows. In truth this is the “year of Saint Joseph” and who better to pray to at this time than a non-judgmental guy who listened more than he talked? Acted out of love, despite certain doubts and hurts. Sometimes we never know what our calling is until we do…and then the power of clarity is just that…so powerful.
I can feel sad on this very special night, and I do, and I probably always will. (I feel so friggin’ much sometimes it’s debilitating). But I never give up on Christmas and the hope it brings because of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Now, more than ever, I understand and think of their fears, their suffering, and their pain. Their moving forward despite their knowledge. This is the nativity I think of tonight.