The first reading has had an interesting history. Well, the whole book has. The Song of Songs compares the love of God, to the closest experience most human beings have of that love. It compares our relationship with God, to the relationship of husband and wife. The first reading describes an exciting relationship of two people madly in love with each other, eagerly racing toward the other, enthusiastically seeking a relationship that makes them complete.
Even for the Jewish people, Song of Songs was almost too much. It did not easily make it into the canon of sacred Scripture. I am glad it did. Because it reminds us how important it is to be eager in our relationship with God. It reminds us how we need to seek to be enthusiastic for that relationship which completes us, which fulfills us, and which is most often expressed in the way in which we care for one another.
The reading is filled with excitement. Weeping, bounding, setting like a seal on one’s heart. The images portrayed in the Song of Songs were tangible and real, easily understandable to two people in love. And as we consider the birth of Jesus, perhaps the closest way of understanding God’s love for us, is to consider the birth of a new baby for parents. They may not be leaping or bounding, especially after a few nights of little sleep, but their love for their newborn child is beyond words. It’s quite remarkable when one considers it. A new, fragile, human life that is loved even before it is known.
The excitement of parents at the birth of their son or daughter gives us a small glimpse of the joy and excitement that God has everything he creates. For while it is many things, the incarnation is about creation. About a God so madly in love with us, he is compelled to create, he is compelled to share his divine life with those made in his own image and likeness.
Perhaps we don’t leap or bound because we fully do not comprehend the absolute power of the word made flesh. Perhaps we do not fully understand the depth of God’s love for each one of us. But perhaps most of all, none of this really matters. Because we are never the ones who leap or bound first. It is always God who takes the initiative, who is so excited to see us. It is in fact God who seeks to be incarnated in each one of us who seek to do his will.