Ruminate on the word you were drawn to in yesterday’s scripture passage (Luke 2:1-7). What does the word or phrase you have chosen mean to you today?
As I listen to this Scripture passage, the Holy Spirit draws my focus to the short phrase, “bands of cloth”. Hearing this phrase makes me smile and takes my mind back to the poetic “swaddling clothes” of the King James version of the Bible. I remember well the excitement I felt as a boy on hearing these words proclaimed in worship! As I only heard this phrase chanted once a year, these words signaled for me the celebration of the Birth of Christ.
But what were these “bands of cloth” or “swaddling clothes” referred to in Holy Scripture? The practice of swaddling meant to wrap the entire baby’s body tightly. Swaddling clothes consisted of a square of cloth with a long bandage-like strip coming diagonally from one corner. The baby was initially wrapped in the square of cloth and then the long strip was wound round about him to keep the limbs straight and to protect him. To swaddle a baby was not a sign of poverty at all, but a sign of parental care. We read in the Wisdom of Solomon: “And when I was born… I was nursed with care in swaddling cloths. For no king has had a different beginning of existence” (Wis 7:3-5).
The simple gesture of swaddling strikes at the heart of this Lucan scripture passage for me. In Mary’s tender arms, in her swaddling, we see the bands of unconditional human love, wrapping around and caring for the divine presence – a model of our life in Christ.
What does the word or phrase that God is whispering in your heart mean for you today?
“A light will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us.”
– Fr Kirtley Yearwood
© Birth of Christ, Donald Jackson, 2002. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.