Meditating on the Nativity

While our own nativity scene may be more elaborate than that of St. Francis, we ought to meditate on the various figures and elements. Most importantly, we gaze upon the baby Jesus. In the fullness of time, God sent his Son not to condemn the world, but to give everlasting life to those who believe (see Jn 3:16). Yes, Jesus, second person of the Holy Trinity, consubstantial with the Father, entered this world through Mary, a Virgin, full of grace, who had conceived by the Holy Spirit. True God became also true man. As St. John wrote, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). He came not as a powerful king with an army of angels to conquer and force us to believe; rather, he came as a baby to disarm us with love. For who does not love a baby? Who does not want to hold a baby? Who does not cast off adult pretenses when holding a baby?

While we gaze at baby Jesus, we must always look up—for there we see Jesus the man, with arms outstretched, who perfectly revealed God’s truth and love, who took the burden of all sin unto himself and offered the perfect sacrifice that transcends time, so that each person can say, “Jesus died for my sins and rose to give me the hope of everlasting life.”

Jesus also entered our circumstances—marriage, family, and home. He was born of Mary and entrusted to St. Joseph, his foster father, who was a righteous man. They loved God most of all and did his will. They loved each other as husband and wife and were devoted parents. As a Jewish father and husband, St. Joseph was the good masculine example for Jesus. He provided for his family, even if this time the best he could find was the shelter of a stable. He guarded them from the wrath of King Herod. He was the spiritual leader who led the family in prayer each morning and evening, before meals, who took them to the synagogue for the Sabbath or Jerusalem for special feast days. He taught Jesus to read, especially to read the Torah. What a great gift St. Joseph was to Jesus! What a great gift any father like St. Joseph is to his wife and children!

 Mary too was that special mother. Prepared from the first moment of her life (her Immaculate Conception), she was full of grace and free of all sin, even the stain of Original Sin. She freely said yes to God and conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Like any mother, Mary must have been the heart of the home. We can imagine all the good things Mary did, as any mom would. What a great gift Mary was to Jesus! What a great gift any mother like Mary is to her husband and children.

Husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, be such a gift to your children. Make Christ the Lord of your lives and your home. Nurture in them a Catholic Christian identity and teach them how to live as Catholic Christians. Make your home an extension of the Church. Children, cherish the gift of your family and your home

This article is taken from a chapter in Celebrating a Merry Catholic Christmas: A Guide to the Customs and Feast Days of Advent and Christmas, which is available from TAN Books.

Fr. William Saunders is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia.