That woman reached out to Christ, her stink announcing her presence even in a crowd of pressing bodies. She clutched the hem of his simple garment and her bleeding stopped. "There is power in the Blood," goes the hymn, and we might keep that more firmly in mind when we think on the night a virgin bore the God-child into the world. If one caress of a hem could staunch that woman's unclean flow, what must nine months of sharing blood with God himself have wrought on blessed Mary?
Poor blessed Mary, sent to a foreign land where she likely heard about the slaughter of innocents, Herod's bloody tribute to the God-child's power. Poor wretched Herod, spiteful little man atop his dung heap of a kingdom, smart enough to fear the baby, foolish enough to consign his soul to hell rather than bow down. One shared blood with God himself, the other tried to spill God's blood before His time. Somewhere in between wallows each of us, never having touched God but desperately wanting the rumors of his coming to be true, and at the same time fearful-if we have a lick of sense about what He demands-of what this will mean for our own dung-heap kingdoms.
I read somewhere that every breath we draw contains millions of oxygen molecules that were once in the lungs of Jesus. This means, of course, that we are breathing the same air that fueled Judas' rapid-beating heart as he tied that rope around his own neck, and that fed Herod's wicked flesh. We live in the midst of a God-drenched world, and a hell-afflicted one, too, and we forget both.
He is in nature's "invisible attributes," as Paul reminds us, condemning in the same breath those who cannot see. We have trouble seeing because, like Herod, we are almost always looking in the wrong place. We seek unusual wonders because the usual doesn't satisfy. We crave an emotional surge because our senses are overloaded. We fashion idols because Moses has been up that mountain too long and the high from when we first believed is starting to wear off. We expect a king and receive a baby.
We receive poor Mary's baby, murdered before her very eyes in a most un-kingly way. No wonder the world despises him; it has always despised meekness. God one day will come in terrible thunder, but he comes to us today as a baby born of a virgin, the two of them seemingly inconsequential at the time, and perhaps all too often inconsequential in this time, as well. They are not large enough in this age of big screens and power brokers, megachurches and franchises. God will come as thunder, yes, but he comes today in a baby's cry, showing his power in meekness. He comes as a baby rightly feared by kings, and he calls out to all of us who have grown so blind and deaf that we can scarcely see the star and hardly hear the angels singing.
Find a quiet place while there is still time, and listen.