This [i.e. the infant Christ] is a child who cannot bear to be separated from his mother. We have seen that God is not ashamed to be our God, to be identified with the one who is involved with us; here, though, it is as if he is not merely unashamed but positively shameless in his eagerness, longing to embrace and be embraced. It is not simply that God will deign not to mind our company: rather he is passionate for it. The image of God’s action we are presented with here is of a hungry love.
Rowan Williams, Ponder These Things: Praying with the Icons of the Virgin (Franklin, WI and Chicago: Sheed & Ward, 2002), p. 25.
These words come from a meditation about a type of icon called the Virgin of Loving Kindness, or the Eleousa, the most famous example of which is perhaps the Virgin of Vladamir. Williams presents the hunger of the Christ child as a revelation of God’s passionate love for humanity. Perhaps God longs for us just as much as we long for God, not out of any lack but out of a superabundance of love in all its forms. Notwithstanding the powerful insights of the theologies of agape, God also has an eminent capacity for friendship and desire. The basis for these loves which ground human community and intimate partnership is found forever in the blessed exchange among the three persons of the divine Trinity, who give and receive eternally within the divine society in which “none is afore or after other.” In the mystery of the Incarnation, this love spills out to bless the world tangibly, revealing in an especially vivid way the inner dynamic of God’s fruitful love that leads God to create and redeem the world in freedom. What is more, in Christ, God’s love becomes our love, as love is returned for love and we are swept up, in the grace of the Spirit, into Christ’s own relationship with the One he called “Abba, Father.”