When Christopher was born with Down syndrome, I called Mark Dyer and his wife Elizabeth, both clergy, who a year before had adopted a severely developmentally disabled son named Matthew. I was still a young priest and still deeply infused with my culture. “Mark”, I asked in my struggle to understand, “How did this happen? Is this a punishment? Why would God let a child be born with such disadvantages?”
Mark gently replied, “I don’t believe in a God who would let a child be born with Down syndrome or any disability. I believe in a God who is above us and reaches out to us with arms of love”.
Funny how a few sentences at the right time can change one’s theology.
God is reaching out to us with arms of love. Through the young Mary and the older Joseph, a child is born who is of God, in God, through God. A human being in whom there is no separation. Jesus came among us to show us through physical arms how God is reaching out to the whole creation with love.
Sometimes it’s hard to let God embrace us or for us to embrace God. Maybe all we have to do is embrace a child with Down syndrome. It works for me, (almost) every time. What a gift.