Walking along the street in DC this week, I noticed something I haven’t seen since I lived in Italy: an “It’s a girl!” bow… A big puffy bow proudly attached to the front door of a townhouse. Seeing those announcements always makes me smile. You know that the neighbors have all congratulated the family, that far-flung relatives will be coming for visits… An aura of joy seems to grace the house when that bow goes up. It made me think of one of this season’s great Biblical quotes,
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:5)
Every parent I’ve ever met agrees, childbirth is a miracle. The irony is that an infant is something so self-contained, so dependent, so knowable. Aren’t miracles all about the un-knowable? Yes and no.
Some people say that miracles (or anything to do with God, really) are unintelligible and so they question the existence of any object of faith. The birth of the Infant Christ gives us a clue to another way that we might consider things of faith. Father John Saward puts it this way in his book, “Cradle of Redeeming Love” :
“When a man meets a mystery of faith, he finds not a deficiency, but an excess of intelligibility: there is just too much to understand.”
…kind of like holding a baby, be it the Infant Jesus or one’s own little sister. That child is understandable, but there is so much there, that our minds can’t possibly grasp it all at once. All the possibilities of a baby’s life, all the love he or she will experience and share… the feeling when an infant grips your finger with all his or her strength… the experience of being embraced by an baby with a combination of utter neediness but also clearly gratitude and love. It’s overwhelming. It’s miraculous.
The mysteries of God are like that, but multiplied by infinity: I can’t fully understand a baby’s embrace, but I don’t doubt the child exists. Maybe that’s one reason the Savior decided to come to us precisely as a child.