Every Christmas I am touched again and again by how Jesus was born into poverty... Not a God for the rich, but a God for the poor- truly a lover of the poor who was born into the lowliest state imaginable.
I am always so grateful for this reality because it reminds me that I too can peacefully-even joyfully!- embrace my own inner poverty and the great poverty of the world around me.
But today I was also thinking about the Blessed Mother, and the many poverties she too faced on the road to Bethlehem. The ways she was stripped of everything she knew and loved until all she had was empty space for the Christ child to be born into her life. Fleeing her homeland with nothing left but empty hands with which she could cling to Jesus with all her strength.
And she – like many of us – faced endless obstacles on that road which led her to the fulfillment of God's promises.
I personally have also faced many obstacles in this last year and was so touched when I read these words by one of my favorite women, Mother Elvira Petrozzi, Foundress of Community Cenacolo. I wanted to share them:
"Faith is not something magical: 'I believe, so God should grant me this grace.' 'I pray, so why hasn't God fulfilled my desires yet?'
Let us enter into the faith of Mary, her solid, certain, strong faith. But, oh, how much she must have suffered! How did she respond to the fact that she was ready to give birth to her child, yet no door opened to them? 'There is no room for you!' Even she must have experienced some fear and anxiety, because she could feel the contractions and yet there was no one to welcome them. She knew that the Son of God was about to be born!
Reflecting on Mary, I realize that, at times, faith is seriously tested through suffering. It becomes stronger when it passes through pain, rejection and marginalization. It is strengthened when our goodness is not even seen, much less appreciated, and we experience none of the respect of our basic human dignity for which we fundamentally long.
It is precisely when we are on the cross and we are suffering that the strength to believe, which later becomes joy, is born within us, and we discover that we are more mature, more balanced, more sensitive toward others, more capable of loving. There is no reality more than pain that can teach us how to love!
Pain is the moment of validation of your faith! ... Instead of 'dumping' our pain on somebody else, we should immerse ourselves in a prayer of trust, 'dumping' on God what hurts and worries us, and trusting ourselves to Him who is our Father.
I am sure that Mary and Joseph prayed constantly in faith, as they knocked on the doors of the inns to see if there was room for them. Their faith gave them certainty that the Lord had not abandoned them, that someone would welcome them, that some place, some door would open.
Faith is He who lives within us, who is stronger than our disappointments, stronger than every closed door...
If things are not working out or you still don't fully understand them, keep them within your heart. 'Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.' (Luke 2:19) Even she did not always understand everything or understand right away, but she continued to live the moment of uncertainty and pain with trust that the heavens would open and God would be victorious."
~M. Elvira Petrozzi
Oh Jesus, be victorious in us. Amidst all of the closed doors in our lives, all our disappointments, our heartaches, and all our failings, we thank you. For these become our "mangers"- the sacred spaces into which You may be born in our lives, where You can save and redeem us.
Jesus Christ, born into a poor and lowly manger 2015 years ago, give us the joy of true faith.