Mary at Bethlehem

The mystery of Bethlehem is full of love and sweetness. Jesus there shows Himself more lovable than upon Calvary.

Let us unite with Mary in her expectation, during the hours that preceded the blessed moment of her Son’s birth. Like her let us redouble our love and fervor. Let us unite in her recollection, and from her dispositions draw this lesson, that we must serve Our Lord as He wishes us to serve Him, and not as we would ourselves. Mary knew by the Prophets all that her Son would have to suffer, and she disposed herself to serve Him as He willed, and to follow Him everywhere. Let us imitate her true love and devotedness. It would appear perfectly natural to Mary for Jesus to be born in a beautiful palace, or at least, as most children, in a certain degree of comfort. But no, He was born in a cave, in the hollow of a rock, into which, after being everywhere repulsed, Mary and Joseph were constrained to retire. St. Joseph’s sorrow must, indeed, have been great. It was upon him, the head of the family, that devolved the care of finding a shelter for his holy Spouse, and we may well imagine his pain and anxiety when, refused admittance everywhere, he was forced to lead Mary at the moment of accouchement into so poor a refuge: as for Mary, she was happy in the midst of rebuffs. She possessed Jesus in her bosom, and she knew that it was He who permitted that they should be rejected and despised, and who had led them to that stable in which He had resolved to be born.

God permits that we fruitlessly seek the help of men, in order that we may abandon ourselves to Him, and allow ourselves to be conducted like Mary and Joseph. It is in this state of abandonment that we feel most sensibly the goodness of God. He then takes care of us, and we confidently draw near to Him, like children around their Father. . . . The Israelites received more favors in the desert than in the Promised Land, and God was nearer to them; and Jesus was more lovable in His crib at Bethlehem or in the poor house of Nazareth, than in His public life in the midst of all the wonders that He wrought.

The Eucharist began at Bethlehem, and in the arms of Mary. It was she who brought to humanity the Bread for which it was famishing, and which alone can nourish it. It was she that took care of that Bread for us.

Text from Father Eymard’s Month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (New York: Sentinel Press, 1903).

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