The moment my son, Brady, was first placed into my arms everything changed. As I gazed into his tiny eyes, stroked his peach fuzz hair, and snuggled new life, I knew my life would never be the same. I knew my life would be consumed with loving him, and I knew, as I held him, that I would experience love in a way I had never experienced before. The very act of receiving my son into my arms for the first time changed my life.
Parents across the world understand the emotional moment of receiving our children into our arms for the first time. In an instant, something wells up from deep within us, and in a fleeting range of emotions we experience profound love for another, tremendous responsibility for another, and fear. When Abby, my daughter, was born and placed into my arms those same emotions arose—love, responsibility, and fear.
Advent prepares us for the birth of Jesus. On Christmas, we celebrate the act of Mary receiving Jesus into her arms for the first time—a moment that exemplifies “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). Can we imagine the gaze between mother and child that day? Mary gazing into Jesus’ tiny eyes, stroking his hair, and snuggling the new life in her arms. Mary feeling the same profound love, tremendous responsibility, and fear that all parents experience. Jesus looking up at her. Jesus crying and needing to be soothed by his mother, the same way all newborns need to be soothed.
I know Mary was changed by Jesus’ birth. Advent prepares us for the Incarnation, when a little baby boy brought a light into his mother’s life that changed her life. Advent prepares us for the greatest reason for hope in this world—that this little baby boy brought light not only into his mother’s life that night, but that Jesus’ birth brought powerful light into our world.