The Nativity of the Lord
The first Christmas, as Holy Scripture tells us, was around a manger, where Mary and Joseph laid the Child Jesus, contemplated and adored Him. There the Light, of whom Isaiah spoke, the light that has shone on the people who walked in darkness and in the valley of gloom, was born. This was also He whom John the Baptist gave testimony to, as the light of the world, whose sandals he was not worthy to untie. For us Christmas has to be around Jesus, the Eucharist, around the people He loves, in our relationships and our responsibilities. Pope Benedict XVI would say:
Contemplating him in the manger, how can we not think of so many children who even today see the light from within a great poverty in many regions of the world? How can we not think of the newborns who are not welcomed and are rejected, of those who do not survive because of a lack of care and attention? How can we not think, too, of the families who desire the joy of a child and do not see this hope fulfilled? (On the Meaning and Value of Our Lives, Dec. 17, 2008).
How can we not also think of people in the Middle East who are persecuted because of their faith, or those who suffer discrimination elsewhere? How can we not think of people suffering from effects of calamities and disasters, suffering from cold and hunger? How can we not think of people suffering in prison and in situations of loneliness and alienation? How can we not think of husbands or wives who have to leave their families to find better jobs for their families far away from home?
The child Jesus that Mary laid in the manger would prefigure that He would be our food for eternal life; that in the simplicity of the manger Jesus would come to men in the simplicity of their hearts; and that in man’s sinful situation that brings death, Jesus would come to lift sinful man to His life.
Jesus Himself gives us the means to find Him. His examples of humility, sacrifice, honesty, integrity, kindness and all other virtues are our treasure map. He is always coming and at the same time present. It will be very frustrating to know that our treasure is just within reach, but we fail to find Him, because we have been worldly and materialistic, we have been self-seeking and proud, and we have not really sought Him and listened to Him.
Jesus comes to us, not in ways that we want to celebrate: decorations, food or noise. He comes to us in simplicity and quiet, in holiness and in love. He comes in our busy schedules so that we can stop and pray or help the needy. In our behaviors to become popular and fashionable, behaviors that are selfish and damaging to others, and behaviors that take advantage of the weak, He comes to us so that we can set our eyes on Him. He comes to us when we are tired, fed up or angry, and we need a little patience or we need to hold our tongue, so that we can learn from His humility. He comes to us when we are complacent, and He disturbs us so that we can realize that He was born in an uncomfortable situation, lived in an unwelcoming and uneasy culture, and died in a most cruel way for our sake. When we feel these disturbing situations, we know the Lord is near and wants us to see Him and to be with Him.
Christmas is God’s gift to us. Christmas is a divine celebration. Christmas is God’s grace, “saving us and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and…. to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people as His own, eager to do what is good (Ti 2: 11-14). Christmas is an opportunity to meditate on the meaning and value of our existence in relation with God and with others; for Christmas cannot be Christmas without Christ anyway.
Let us ask for the virtue of generosity that we may respond courageously to His Coming in every situation of life. Let us celebrate Christmas worthy of Jesus in lively faith, in joyful hope and in prayerful love for Him and His Church. With Joseph and Mary, we contemplate Jesus in our families and in our relationships. Above all, fear not for a savior is born for you (Lk 2:10-11).