I recently found a prayer card stuck in a book. I have lots of prayer cards stuck in lots of books, so they pop on me pretty regularly. This one had a cut out of a painting of the nativity. The animals are looking on as Mary lays Jesus in the manger. Joseph is sitting nearby, looking terribly exhausted. On the back is a prayer related to Christmas and the Holy Family, but some of the words are so beautiful, they transcend the liturgical season.
O Blessed Mary and dearest Joseph, allow me to journey with you to Bethlehem. I am a lowly pilgrim making my way to the center of history, the center of the universe: the birth of Christ the Lord…Time will stand still, forever divided by the entry of the Creator into His creation…He who is Light from Light now sees with eyes of flesh that star’s gentle lumen. My heart is prostrate before Him and I have but one sorrow: I am poor, bereft of fitting treasures for this newborn King.
Sometimes during Christmas, I get distracted by the cute baby and the sheep and the soft glow of candles and starlight to really consider the weight of the Incarnation. But Holy Week is heavy, and now the Incarnation is at the forefront of my mind. God didn’t just come walk among the humans; he became human, to reach out to us in a personal, intimate way. He made friends, he got hungry, he experienced the range of emotions and temptations we do. He died. He lived in a physical, temporally linear form so that we might understand him. To follow Christ is indeed to make pilgrimage to the center of history, the center of the universe.
As Holy Week begins, we walk the most difficult and most beautiful part of that journey.