As we enter into the rhythm of the Advent season, let us consider the reasons that we are decorating, cooking, and preparing for great celebration: the coming of God in the flesh among us here.
Over 2000 years ago, a baby was born to an obscure, low-income family, in a makeshift room among animals, far from His mother’s home. The baby, however, was never far from home, because He was safely embraced in the loving arms of His virgin mother who had held Him for nine months in the most intimate of connections. This connection began with her verbal reception of God’s Word, when Mary’s mind, soul, and heart were ready and willing to receive the Son of God. The Word was made flesh and nestled into her womb prepared for Him who is both fully divine and fully human.
The very first relationship that God in the flesh had with another human being was with Mary, His mother. A tiny blastocyst, He caught onto the lining of her uterus, attaching Himself and burrowing in to this place of refuge. The very touch of His presence caused a space to open for Him so that He could find safety and continued life. Mary’s blood vessels, little capillaries, reached out toward Jesus to begin giving Him nourishment and sustenance. The placenta and umbilical cord began to form, creating that vital connection between Him and His mother, without which He could not have grown, without which He could not have survived.
Then an embryo, God in the flesh was already being mothered naturally, with the great biological gifts given to Mary as a woman. She instinctively made room for Him and for the continuation of His life. Christ fully lived like us, living the extreme dependency of life in utero. It was His mother’s blood supply that gave Him nutrients and through which His bodily wastes were taken away.
In this same first month of Jesus’s life, when The Word of God made flesh formed His first connection with a human being, His own heart began to beat.
Let’s reflect on this more deeply for a moment. This was truly the beginning of God’s life as a human being in relationship with others: another person began to give to God in the flesh what He needed and take from Him what He couldn’t handle on His own in the limitations of being human. It is divinely poetic that it was at this moment in life that He had His first heartbeat. We say that we relate to one another through the heart. Think of Mary’s blood vessels as her heartstrings. Jesus’s pull upon her heartstrings allowed His very own heart to begin to beat.
At this time, nobody could hear the heartbeat of Jesus, not even His mother — though it was her Immaculate Heart that pumped life into His growing body. Heart-to-heart, The Immaculate Heart of Mary and The Sacred Heart of Jesus both beat with the rhythm of life in the intimate space of her body, His heart entrusted to hers. Through this connection to His mother, His heart was able to continue beating with divine love in human flesh.
We put our faith, rightfully, in God, and we also put our faith in one another. We human beings are all dependent at the beginning of our lives and we remain necessarily interconnected with others throughout our years. No heart beats alone. We need one another — not only for our survival (and to be alive is a divinely great gift) but also for our joy and divine fulfillment, for the giving and receiving of love. Our hearts yearn for the understanding of others, for belonging, community, and home. They ache with loneliness or betrayal. They beat in sympathy with those who are suffering and grieve for those who are in pain. When we find mercy, compassion, tenderness, and generosity in the love of human beings, then our hearts are made glad.
Such too is the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, first beating while in the womb of His Immaculate Mother.
A Prayer for the Second Sunday of Advent,
while lighting the Bethlehem candle, symbolizing faith:
Lord Jesus, Your heart — like mine — was once terribly tiny, but it beat with the infinite power of divine love. There are times when I think that I am too small, too weak to effect any good in my own life or the lives of others. In these times, help me to remember Your tiny weakness in Your mother’s womb and the trust that You divinely placed in human goodness, no matter how physically weak or small. May I heed Your call for me to boldly give of myself in love, responding with faith, as did Your Mother. Strengthened by that faith, may I place all of my trust in You. With every beat of my own heart, may I remember the infinite love, both human and divine, of Your Sacred Heart.
Every embrace that I experience is a trace of Your total embrace, My Lord and My God, which is completely life-giving and loving without end. As St. Augustine said, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
© 2019 Christina Chase
Read more about the intimate union that we share with God in the flesh and the sacred wonder of being human with my new book: It’s Good to Be Here.
Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.