1 December 2019

My Christmas blessing

“They were in Bethlehem when the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger, because there was no place for them at the Inn… (Luke 2:6-14)

On Christmas Eve in 1965 my first child was born. Seventeen hours prior and showing early signs of labour, I was admitted to St Margaret’s Hospital, Darlinghurst in Sydney.

After my admission, labour had progressed very slowly: the baby seemed to have settled down and nothing much was happening. The nurses were monitoring the baby’s heart beats, for signs of fatigue. It was 8.30pm when, suddenly, my doctor arrived wearing a bright floral shirt. He was at a Christmas barbecue when the hospital called him.

From that moment on, everything moved very quickly. I was given a mild anaesthetic to help me with the instrumental birth, since the baby showed signs of distress. My son was born soon after. He was an unexpected Christmas gift as he was due in mid-January. They wrapped him in a bunny rug and laid him in the crib beside me. His eyes were wide open and he seemed to be staring deeply into mine, as if to find his new life line and check out his new habitat.

Looking into my son’s eyes, I had the feeling that God, the Creator, was looking at me from his infinity! The book of Genesis 1:27 tells us that “God created man in his image, in the image of God he created him”. In this newborn baby the image of God transpired. The happy coincidence and the spirit of Christmas made present for us the reality of the birth of Jesus which occurred two thousand years earlier.

When they took my son to the nursery, I fell asleep and awoke at midnight to the sound of Christmas carols: Silent Night and Gloria in excelsis Deo. I first thought I had passed on and that hearing angels singing glory to God could only mean that I was in heaven. As the songs continued, I thought I was enjoying my first taste of paradise. Then the lady I was sharing the room with, made a noise and brought me back to earth.

I enquired about the songs I was hearing. My roommate explained that the community of nuns, who ran the hospital, were on their way through the gardens to midnight Mass in the chapel: they were the human and earthly angels who were singing the Christmas Carols.

For a few brief moments, I was transported to Bethlehem, was allowed to share in the spirit of that first Christmas and was blessed to gaze into eternity! It was the best Christmas gift!  John, the evangelist tells us about the incarnation of the Word of God, which took place in Mary’s Virginal Womb. The incarnation of the Word continues throughout the ages, when believers accept it in their hearts and integrate it into their life.

“To all those who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God. These are born not from human stock nor from human passion or plan, but from God. And the Word became flesh … (Jn:1-12-14)

By Enza Russo