A Baby Cries At Night

Joseph R. Veneroso MM

Celebrating the Christmas vigil Mass for the Korean-American community in Queens, New York, I was waxing eloquent about the mystery of the Incarnation – God becoming human – when from somewhere in the congregation an infant had the audacity to cry. Loud.

Embarrassed, the mother excused herself and slouched apologetically toward the door, the child wailing all the louder as they went. I stopped in mid-homily. From the pulpit I asked the mother to stop and return to her seat. “A newborn baby sound more like the fist Christmas than anything I am saying,” I said.

That was 10 years ago. No one, including me, remembers what profound message I spoke that night, but people in the community still recall the time a priest welcomed a baby’s crying in church.

Every year, Christmas sneaks up on us unawares, as if the date were a surprise. We never have enough time to send all the cards, buy and wrap all the gifts, and still get the tree trimmed – too many interruptions. Like a baby crying.

But Christmas is about the ultimate, divine interruption. When God interrupted human history, a baby’s cooing and crying heralded the Good News. A wet, messy birth, with umbilical cord and placenta I have yet to see portrayed in any Nativity scene. Sanitized salvation.

In our busy lives, Christmas does not offer a peaceful time for reflection; it complicates our routine with even more things to do. Likewise, God did not draw us out of our situation, but rather joined us in the messiness of life. If God takes our human nature so seriously, shouldn’t we?

Rather than feeling frustrated and stressed at this time of year, perhaps we need to unwrap this Christmas gift: finding God through interruptions.