Christmas, mystery of joy and pain in Mary

December 25, 2020

St. Thomas writes about the mystery of Christmas: In this divine birth “there was no lessening of the integrity of the mother, but the greatest joy, because the Man-God was born in the light of the world” (Summa Theologiae).

Let us reflect for a moment on this boundless joy of the Blessed Virgin, to which St. Thomas alludes.

It is the sublime moment in which her heavenly gaze falls for the first time on the adored countenance of the Divine Infant and her immaculate hands take him to the heart and to the first kiss of his maternal lips. Some saints had the rare privilege of enjoying for a few moments the embrace of the Child Jesus, who appeared miraculously in their arms, and they were ineffably carried away, because those of the Child Jesus are the most moving and tender faces of God.

But those were appearances, this was reality. The saintly old man Simeon had the great privilege of holding the Child in his arms, precisely in his reality, and he burst into exultation in his canticle: “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace, because my own eyes have seen the salvation”. St. Elizabeth rejoiced at Mary’s approach, who was carrying Jesus within her invisibly.

But these were all the hearts of saints; this, instead, was the Immaculate Heart of the Queen of Saints!

She also had for Jesus not only the divine charity incited by the Divine Lord, like the saints, but also with maternal tenderness towards Him, which was immensely greater than all the tenderness of a mother, the more sensitive her Immaculate Heart was and the more loving her Son; she had the sweetest heartbeat of a daughter for her God and the most tender heartbeat of a mother for her Jesus.

Jesus was her treasure because He was born from her, though in a very special and inimitable way, because He had no natural earthly father; and He was her treasure, but of truly infinite value because He was conceived by the Holy Ghost and, consequently, a masterpiece of God; rather Man - God.

And if the Lord's holy joys are much deeper when they are prepared in recollection, meditation and prayer, how much they should be in Mary, who had prepared herself for that moment with nine months of intimate recollection and ineffable union with the living Jesus in her?

The joy, however, was immediately joined by the most tormenting pain. It was the cold of the night that pricked him, it was the darkness of the grotto, the disgusting exhalations of the stable, the dirt on the walls, the wheezing of the animals, that pile of straw prepared in the manger that welcomed him, while all the splendour of the universe, gathered in a single palace, would not have been worthy of him.

The absence, in the Blessed Virgin, of any physical pain in giving birth to Jesus, was amply compensated for by the intense moral pain. Thus, joy was joined to heartbreaking pain: they were a joy and a torment of love. It was a love that grew more and more intense in the face of the supreme humiliations in which she saw Jesus immersed for our sake because the deeper the humiliations of God appear, the more they force us to love him.