A Christmas poem by Fr Cyril Lovett

Captivated by an Infant’s Gaze

In the old days there was a myth
that new-born babies could not see
for some time after birth. Now we know better:
within hours of being born
a tiny child is focusing its eyes
above all on its mother.
This helpless, vulnerable baby
is fixing its unblinking gaze to draw in,
charm and captivate its only source
of food and protection.

For millennia, God the Father,
who made us in his own image,
had to live with mankind’s perverse response:
we made Him in our image!
If the great, the powerful, the rulers
of this world so often turned out to be
remote, capricious, merciless and vindictive
then God was viewed through the same lens.

John wrote, “No one has ever seen God;
God’s only Son, he who is nearest to the Father’s heart,
has made him known”. The birth at Bethlehem then,
was God’s final effort to reveal his true face to us:
to make clear that our God
desperately seeks to captivate each one of us
by appearing in the form of the only creature
that invariably disarms us, and draws from us
such a loving response.

Why did he do this?
To make clear that he needs our love?
That we are infinitely precious to Him?
That there is no measure he will not take
to captivate us and assure us of his love?

So let your face be the unwavering focus
of your baby’s gaze. Fall under its spell,
and remember again just how much you are loved
by the Christ-child of Bethlehem.

Cyril Lovett SSC                                

Fr Cyril Lovett is the retired editor of the Far East magazine. He served on mission in the Philippines and Brazil. His collection of poems, ‘Matters of the Heart’ was published by Vilnius Press in 2013.

The Virgin Mary lovingly holding the Infant Jesus in her arms by Antonio Balestra (1666-1740). Currently in Castello Visconteo, Pavia, Italy.
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