It’s more than a birthday. The God who effortlessly created the cosmos and the vastness of the universe for us …. that awesome God took on flesh, became like us, came to exist in a new way for us! Blessed Holy Christmas to all of you!!
We owe the image of the Nativity in our homes to Saint Francis of Assisi. He possessed a profound devotion to the Word made Flesh and desired to bring the whole Incarnation Event into one scene: shepherds, cows, sheep, angels, Magi …. all these figures come together instantaneously to worship the New Born King in the beloved scene we know as The Nativity. Saint Bonaventure brings this scene to us in his own words from The Life of St. Francis of Assisi:
It happened in the third year before his death, that in order to excite the inhabitants of Greccio to commemorate the nativity of the Infant Jesus with great devotion, (St. Francis) determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff.
Then he prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the place appointed. The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise. The man of God (St. Francis) stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ.
Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His Name for the tenderness of his love, he called Him the Babe of Bethlehem….
I wonder what it must be like to be a saint and celebrate Christmas. What must it be like to be so near to the baby Jesus and to hold him? Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2016 Christmas Midnight homily, stated eloquently:
God’s sign is simplicity. God’s sign is the baby. God’s sign is that He makes Himself small for us. This is how He reigns. He does not come with power and outward splendor. He comes as a baby — defenseless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with His strength. He takes away our fear of His greatness. He asks for our love: so He makes Himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into His feelings, His thoughts and His will — we learn to live with Him and to practice with Him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love. God made Himself small so that we could understand Him, welcome Him and love Him.
Yes. God desires to draw near to us for no other reason than love. He commands the stars to find us, his angels sing gloriously of his coming, and his mother gives him to us in order that we might adore him. The most memorable and meaningful thing we can do this Christmas is to make time for Jesus. To sit still and adore the Lord who drew near to us, providing a way for us to be with him forever. Love is what is at stake.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN DO DURING THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON: Allow the Holy Family to come towards you, to show you the Holy Child, to adore and love him … this is done in a tangible way as you welcome guests, friends, and rekindle old friendship during this Christmastide.