A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Gift of a Child

br Bridget Taumoepeau

In the chapel of the Retreat House at Manresa in Dublin there is a beautiful sculpture of the Madonna and Child. Mary is clasping the infant to her shoulder in a gentle embrace. As my Director pointed out, it is very unusual for the Child to be facing His mother, rather than looking out at us. But this sculpture completely illustrates the natural way that a mother would hold her child. In addition one feels almost compelled to stroke the baby’s head as you would in real life.

The sculptor, Antoinette Flemeing, has portrayed beautifully the bond between mother and child and in doing so invites us to appreciate the generosity of Our Lady. Not only was she chosen to bear the Son of God, but then she must share Him with us all. From the time of His birth the world knew that something momentous had happened. The shepherds visiting had been told to do so by the angels. Then the Magi came with gifts for a King and, as if that wasn’t enough, the family had to flee the wrath of Herod, jealous of the idea of a rival king in his land. 

Did Mary, pondering all these things in her heart, really understand that her beloved child would be claimed by so many others? That as a child he would tell her of his need to be in His Father’s house? That his ways would not be the ways of the world? That he would be sought out by so many, so much so that he had to take to a boat, or, on another occasion, escape from their clutches? How many times must she have remembered the prophecy of Simeon that a sword would pierce her heart? And all this long before the terrible realisation that he would be put to death.

And so at Christmas, when we celebrate the coming of the Infant Jesus, let us also remember the extraordinary generosity of Our Lady, who said ‘yes’ to all that God asked of her.   

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