Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
They were cloths, not clothes. Swaddling cloths. More recent translations of this passage refer to that in which Mary enveloped her newborn child as "bands of cloth." Strips of rag used to swaddle, to wrap a baby tight, in order to replicate the familiar feel of the womb amidst the unfamiliar and disorienting realities of earthly life.
Today such cloth strips are still used in many places around this often hostile and unforgiving world, to swaddle the newly born. Infants in our hospitals receive similar comfort wrapped in small, soft cotton blankets, just as the indigenous baby had her papoose.
Amidst the instability and uncertainties of our own time, God continues to swaddle us in the relentless and familiar embrace of divine love, not to restrict our movement, but to assure us of God's abiding presence and, thus grounding our confidence in the holy, to embolden us to act for the good.
With every blessing of Him who was swaddled in earthly rags and heavenly love,
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio
wholly vulnerable to a world in which evil and good
wrestle ceaselessly, sacrificing the innocent and culpable alike,
the infant God lay in a feed trough,
protected only by rags of cloth
and his mother's love.
in tactile remembrance of the human womb that delivered him to us,
the One who would save the world was presented to kings and shepherds alike,
wrapped in earthly rags and heavenly love.
So, too, are you
presented to the powerful and powerless,
wrapped in the same soiled cloths of life and spotless love of God,
a holy light to enlighten the world;
you, the very body of Christ.