I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
why Jesus, our Savior, was born for to die,
for poor, orn’ry people like you and like I
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.
Wonder is a word we use often at Christmas.It describes our reaction to something beyond what we expect, beyond our experience and our understanding. It’s so big it leaves us lost for words.
We describe the mystery we celebrate today as the wonder of the Incarnation.The wonder that God, who made all things could become human like us, and in such startling circumstances.
A woman was telling me about her little girl, Isabel. She’s in the first grade in a little Catholic school down the street from us and they were into the Christmas story recently.
“She can’t wait to go to school, ” her mother said. “They’re putting together a creche for the Baby Jesus and they’re learning all about the angels, and the wise men who come to the stable on camels, and Mary and Joseph, and the shepherds and the wicked king who want to kill all the babies in Bethlehem. They’re offering little prayers that the whole world be blessed when he comes.”
Isabel is enthralled by it all. “Mommy, did you know Jesus had to sleep on straw. That straw we put in the crib would hurt him when he slept on it.”
Isabel was asking what she was going to get for Christmas, and her mother told her that before we open our hand to get anything we have to open it to give something. So Isabel wants enough money to buy presents for everyone in the world. She’s going to have to see the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States for a bailout like that, her mother says.
The Christmas story is a wonderful story. Children are delighted by it: it touches the oldest and wisest of us.
I was reading a Christmas sermon of St. Augustine recently. You can see him wondering too about this great mystery. Listen to him.
The Word of God, maker of time, becoming flesh was born in time.
Born today, he made all days.
Ageless with the Father, born of a mother, he began counting his years.
Man’s maker became man; the ruler of the stars sucked at a mother’s breasts,
the Fountain thirsted,
the way was wearied by the journey,
the truth was accused by false witnesses,
the life slept in death,
the judge of the living and the dead was judged by a human judge,
justice was condemned by injustice,
the righteous was beaten by whips,
the cluster of grapes was crowned with thorns,
the upholder of all hung from a tree,
strength became weak,
health was stricken with wounds,
He humbled himself that we might be raised up.
He suffered evil that we might receive good,
Son of God before all days, son of man these last days,
from the mother he made, from the woman who would never be, unless he made
her. (Augustine, Sermon 191, 1; PL 38, 1010)
Through the years, this mystery of God made so many wonder. May it bring us to wonder today.