The Wonder of Wonders
By Amanda Hudson
As we draw closer to Christmas, may we be blessed by the wonder of this lovely holy day.
That whole idea of “wonder” is far from automatic.
Children are good at experiencing wonder, particularly at this time of year. The younger they are, the bigger their eyes at the sparkling lights, brightly-wrapped gifts and, depending on the year, the snow as it transforms the outdoors.
The older we get, the less enthralling is all of that, although this year especially, the beautiful lights on houses and other displays are very welcome, providing at least a little bit of a lift for our hearts. But the rest, even our own decorating efforts, might simply speak “work” instead of “wonder.”
As Christians, we are called to become more and more aware of the true “reason for the season,” and to place our wonder in Jesus. That is easier said than done no matter the other challenges of any given year.
As children, the physical evidence of the season is the focus. Decorations, presents and snowflakes can be seen and touched. Songs can be heard, cookies happily tasted, and hugs received and given. That kind of wonder is dependent on our five senses, and the joys of that sensory overload is more precious because it is time-dependent. Most of it will not last beyond the beginning of January.
As adults, we can enjoy our eggnog and wassail, Christmas cocktails and sweets. But we are aware of a need for moderation in all such indulgences — and what’s the fun in that?
Years of not-quite-right presents given and received, of momentary hopes that fade quickly, and of outright disappointments if not actual holiday or family disasters, work against our finding a sense of wonder as the years pile up.
The temptation this year will be to blame the coronavirus as the culprit for any lack of seasonal wonder within us. It is a legitimately bad foe, but God can come to us around it, or even through it.
Depending on our circumstance — and yet transcending our surroundings — we can decide to focus deeply on the wonder of the Christ Child, and the fact that God Himself dove right into our fallen world without the benefits that come with power and resources, or even titles and great physical strength.
He came here as a newborn after developing in the usual way in the womb of His mother. He was born in what was basically a cave. His parents had to flee with Him to a foreign country to live there for some years before it was safe for them to return home. 
Jesus’ story is so completely the opposite of what we, or anyone, would expect. By pondering and praying, imagining and opening our hearts to His light, perhaps we can we find a deeper sense of wonder that will surpass all those moments that depend on our five senses.
As important and precious as time spent with family at the Christmas season, it will be more beneficial to us and to our families if we can allow ourselves to be truly amazed by Jesus.
“It is we who decide what kind of wonder fills our hearts,” wrote Mother Mary Francis, a Poor Clare nun from a community in Roswell. All of our human wonderings, left to themselves, can become a dark wonder, she says. Those dark ruminations, she adds, “must be changed into the wonder of light (and realization) that God does know exactly what He is about.”
Nothing about Jesus’ birth was accidental. Not the journey to Bethlehem. Not the flight into Egypt. Not the shepherds, nor the wise men. Mary and Joseph both were deliberately chosen as parents. Jesus had to grow and learn and mature.
It all is truly amazing, given the infinite power and might, beauty and light that are His, all hidden in that little boy every bit as completely as it is present within the Eucharist we receive.
One of the realities of this wonder in Jesus is that it lasts, and it can be renewed all year long. Jesus is not brought out at Christmas and put away after New Year’s. He is for all seasons — seasons of the year, of life, and beyond.
We may have more time this year to ponder this incredible birth into time of One who is beyond time. May we choose to open our hearts to the wonder of Jesus!