As I sit in the Eucharistic Adoration chapel, I am graced with this very visual meditation of the life of Christ. As if the very heartbeat of Christ in the monstrance isn’t enough, today I also get to praise and adore the infant Jesus, who the shepherds worshiped and who the magi traveled far to find, honor, and present gifts fit for a King. There He is before me.
In my prayer, I recall how I waited and watched for Him to come, during the Advent season. I prepared my heart and home. I made room. The empty manger, poor and humble, represented my heart. As it slowly filled with fresh straw, the manger transformed and became a suitable resting place for the Lord. Even in its meagerness, He accepted it as a gift from my poverty, and therefore, He redeemed it. And there it is, empty no longer, but filled with Love Himself.
As I waited and watched for Jesus to come on Christmas, He waited and watched for me to come, too. He hoped I would be there to adore with the Holy Family, shepherds, angels, and magi. He didn’t choose a grand entrance, did He? No, He chose a simple, humble beginning. He made Himself known to a few unlikely characters, and I can only imagine how grateful God was for their faith, love, and reverence of His only begotten Son. What a personal beginning, too, to make Himself known to such a few people. It is just like Him to want to touch the individual heart first.
As I adore this tiny Jesus, I just want so much to pick Him up and hold Him in my arms. The joy of Christmas continues to fill my heart, as we enter the season of Ordinary Time. But as I gaze upon the sweet baby Jesus, nestled under the altar, under His real presence, I can’t help but look up and see that same Jesus hanging on the cross, dying for sins and for broken hearts. And again, an intimate group surrounds Him … an unlikely group … a few faithful. Our Blessed Mother and Sts. John and Mary Magdalane stand at the foot of the cross with reverence, strength, and gratitude. Am I brave enough to stand with them? I sure hope so. Because Jesus on the cross is the same Jesus in the manger. Can I embrace the cross as much as I embrace the Babe?
And after He dies, as Mary holds His lifeless body in her arms, how could she not think back to that wondrous night with a star shining brightly and shepherds speaking to her of angels. What Child is this who laid to rest on my lap is sleeping? And with hope she entrusts her treasured memories of His birth and of the visitors, of her years with Him as a boy, and of the great works she saw Him do right before her eyes. She even surrenders her firsthand knowledge that this lifeless body is indeed the Messiah. She trusts what is next in God’s Holy Will. And through His life, death, and resurrection, He shows us that new life springs out of death, and all is restored and healed … and made better.
Today, Jesus—the same Jesus yesterday, today, and always—is living and is here. He waits for me to join the shepherds, wise men, and His closest friends—that unlikely bunch—in worship and adoration. He is in my Chapel, in the monstrance on the altar, just as much as He was in the manger and on the Cross. And He invites me to be with Him in His poverty and vulnerability; to be with Him in His glory and majesty. Just like He asked the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane to stay and pray with Him for one hour, so He asks me to do the same.
Oh, Lord, I adore You. I embrace You fully. I accept it all: the cradle and the cross; the grave and the empty tomb; death and life; the fullness of love. I take delight in the mystery of your plan, and I am grateful for who You chose to reveal Yourself to—the least and unlikely—and the marvelous things you did through them. May I be counted among them … I am here, Lord. I come to adore. I come to love You.