Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Mary and Joseph encountered many surprises the night their newborn son arrived. But what was it like when the eyes of Jesus first opened on them? How must that have felt?
How would we respond if Jesus looked at us today? Would we avert our eyes like the rich man in Matthew who turned away sadly? Would we close them entirely as Judas did? Or like Peter, would we struggle to maintain eye contact, however hard it was to do at first?
Anne Lamott wrote, “The love of our incredible dogs and cats may be the closest most of us will come, on this side of eternity, to knowing the direct love of God.” Imagine the eyes of a beloved pet— infant, sibling, grandparent— and try—in a Jesuit affirmation I love— to “Behold God, beholding you, and smiling.”
When Christ looks at us he teaches us how we might look at one another!
—Joe Kraemer, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the California province, is studying philosophy at Fordham University.
O Lord, you have come to us as a small child, but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts, the gift of eternal love. Caress us with your tiny hands, embrace us with your tiny arms, and pierce our hearts with your soft, sweet cries.
—Nativity prayer of St. Bernard of Clairvaux