Maybe it's appropriate, then, that our traditional nativity scene portrays Mary in the second posture, having put her infant down and allowing him to reach out to the adoring others who surround him. After all, the Christian gospel is one that focuses less on our capacity for self-consciousness than on our capacity for empathy, forgiveness, service, and mutual understanding: "He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it." The infant Jesus, incarnated as a human, presumably matured emotionally and psychologically as most children do. He needed Mary to hold him, and he needed Mary to put him down. And because she did, wrapping her baby in swaddling clothes and setting him in a manger of hay, all Christians can approach that child, gaze into his eyes, and read there his message of compassion and universal goodwill.
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