The Nativity

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. Luke 2:1-20

He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see--I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Christmas in Family: Let's get ready for Jesus

For the Christian community, Christmas is the most important feast of the liturgical year after Eastern. The event of Bethlehem is the counterpoint to the event of Golgotha; it is a time of renewal, of life, and of birth in which celebrations, food, gifts and wishes for peace and happiness abound.

But in the like manner, Christmas is a time to reawaken our faith and prepare our hearts to go to the encounter of the God-Child, lying on a manger, adored by the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and the shepherds.

It is a time to celebrate the presence of Emmanuel, the "God with us" Who is neither distant nor indifferent to our problems and suffering, but Who rather has wanted to take on our flesh and to feel, with us and like us, cold, hunger, thirst, fatigue and need.

Saint Francis of Assisi used to say that there were two places to which the Christian would always have to return, Bethlehem and Calvary. Christmas held so much meaning for him, that the sole mention of it brought tears to his eyes. He asserted that, if he be able, he would beg the emperor on his knees to give an edict which obliged all his subjects to plant wheat besides the roads on Christmas day, so that the birds – especially the larks- would feast an a splendid banquet. He said that, on that blessed day, he would decree that donkeys and ox which, with their breath, kept the little child Jesus warm on that cold night. And not content with that, Francis said that, in this season, even the walls should feast on meat. But being that was not possible, that should at least be smeared with butter so that they too, in their own way, would be able to eat. The poor man of Assisi used to go out to the squares and roads to speak to the people about the God-Child and he would do it with such fervor and passion that those who heard him would remain profoundly moved.

But it wasn’t Francis alone who lived the experience of Christmas with intensity. St. Therese of the Child Jesus recounts in her autobiography that she experienced the miracle of her complete conversion precisely on that blessed night. Jesus flooded her soul with His light and impelled her to give the definitive step that would later lead her to enter the Carmel of Lisieux. On a Christmas night, little Theresa lived her Pentecost.

If we open our hearts and prepare ourselves to receive Jesus Who comes, Who is already among us and Who invites us to approach Him, who knows? Perhaps we will also allow ourselves to be overcome with joy and we’ll proclaim that yell perhaps not with words but surely with our deeds, recognizing our Lord in the children, in the youth, in the elderly, the sick, and above all, in those who have not yet experienced the love of God in their hearts.

Then it will make sense to set up a nativity scene in our homes and decorate them with Christmas lights and ornaments, to give gifts to our loved ones and friends, and organize celebrations and "posadas" and intone carols to the Son of God Who is capable o coming among us a newborn child.

Then it will be possible for us to celebrate Christmas with our hearts and to permit the God-Child to be born in them, not only on Christmas eve but every day of our lives.

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