There is something fascinating about the hands of an infant—especially when they reach up and grasp the outstretched fingers of a doting adult. Although the child will not be able to speak for months, through their hands, they are able to express one of our most basic needs; the need to belong, to touch and be touched. Most of us find it easy to respond to this need and to do so eagerly. Caressing a baby in our arms seems to soften even the most hard-hearted among us.
Why is it that we are so ready to love and be loved by an infant? Perhaps it is because of their absolute innocence. Maybe it is because we love that which is fresh and new. It is probably both of these—and more. But I think it is also a matter of being drawn into a love that demands very little from us. It’s easy to love an infant—to hold and lavish attention on someone without any commitment. It makes us feel good and there are no strings attached (except, of course, if you are the parents).
And so, we delight in the feast of Christmas. We gaze lovingly at the infant Jesus and wish that we could just pick him up and hold him and love him.
My brother and sisters, sometime during the weeks of the Christmas season, go to the crib scene in church or in your home. Reflect on the mystery of God’s loving patience and then look at those outstretched hands that seem to demand so little from us. They are the same hands which, as they grow older and before they are folded in death, will demand a great deal from us. They are the same hands that commanded the sea to be calm as he and his disciples were being tossed about on the stormy sea. They are the hands which, when laid upon the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, or the withered limbs of women and men broken and in need, brought sight, hearing, and wholeness. They are the hands that took bread, blessed it, broke it, and said, “Take and eat; for this is my body.” They are the hands which, when fastened to a cross, embraced every woman, man, and child whoever lived and whoever would live, in one supreme and selfless act of blessing and redemption.
My brothers and sisters, by all means, take the hand of the infant Savior into your hands. But as his hand grows larger and his grip grows stronger and the wood of the crib becomes the wood of the cross, do not pull back. Rather, tighten your grip and savor the unimaginable peace and joy that comes with total commitment—not just a warm and sentimental Christmas moment—but total commitment to the eternal Son of God.
– Fr. Anthony Criscitelli, T.O.R.
(Originally printed in According to Your Word - Reflections for the Advent & Christmas Seasons; See http://franciscanfriarstor.blogspot.com/2011/11/according-to-your-word-reflections-for.html)