The Lord says:
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
From you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
Whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times. (Mi 5:1)
I have known so many people through the years who go through a radical change as they are preparing to have children. People once a bit selfish, perhaps even in their marriage, open up and blossom when they consider having a child. They begin to go through the ritual of choosing potential names, potential godparents, potential color schemes for the baby’s room, et cetera.
Their planning turns into talking. They talk to anyone they can about the “promise” of their child. At first, they do not want to say a lot, particularly if they have lost any babies in the past, because they want to make as sure as possible that their child will come to term.
As the birth gets closer, they begin to share baby stories. They talk about the baby stories of their lives and their families and friends. They begin to get more and more excited about this new birth that is impending.
When the child arrives, one word seems fitting: finally! The arrival brings great joy and the parents tell the news far and wide. And then they begin to hope: this child will be a great teacher, a great leader, a great whatever. They’re going to make sure by giving the baby everything it needs to develop, to grow, to mature.
Everybody wants a perfect baby. Nobody wants one that is not “up to snuff”. I remember working in labor and delivery when I was an orderly in between college and theology. A woman had a baby one night. After seeing her child (a first-born, no less), she looked at me and asked, “Tell me, are they really all that ugly?” I didn’t have the heart to tell her “No.” Her baby, as they say, put the “ug” in ugly. But, in a few days, the baby started “cutening” up.
Bethlehem-Ephrathah was that ugly baby. Bethlehem-Ephrathah was the “runt” of the litter of Judah. Yet, from it, a baby was promised: the Messiah.
God has a plan for all of His children. We just need to cooperate with Him.
Today, we celebrate the birth of Mary. She cooperated with God’s plan for her. Thank God for her faithfulness and trust. Because of her “Yes” to God, Bethlehem-Ephrathah received its promise.
FAITH ACTION: In silent prayer today, thank God for the gift of your birth and give God permission to use you as He sees best.