In every Christmas that we celebrate, Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, is born for us. He comes to join us in our daily lives, to illuminate them and give them fullness of meaning. The nativity scenes that we love so much represent the Savior’s birth: Jesus was born on the edge of a small town, and would come to share the everyday lives of the people, their hardship, marginalization and difficulties.
Only an attentive and unprejudiced gaze can recognize the Savior in the child in the manger at Bethlehem. This was the gaze of Mary and Joseph and then that of the shepherds and the Magi. It is up to us to sustain this gaze, recognizing and welcoming the incarnate Son of God and offering him a place at the center of our lives, that is, by “opening wide the doors” to the very One to whom the doors were closed when He was about to come into the world!
Let us then visit Bethlehem. Let us turn our silent gaze toward the child laid in the manger; and let us adore in a devout spirit the Son of God who becomes our brother and who, as the only Son, shares the Father with us. This is the precious and free gift to be welcomed and celebrated at Christmas.
Jesus comes for everyone. There is no human reality in which He does not want to be present, to redeem it, to transform it, to bring it to the Father, to make it more human and more divine through the action of His Spirit. The reality of the crib is clear evidence of this close union between humanity and divinity, a union that attracts us, makes us rejoice, and leads us to an encounter with others. Christmas is a celebration of welcome, not exclusion, a time of care and attention, not indifference and marginalization, an invitation to growth, not resignation. It is God himself, who became one of us, who includes and embraces all without exception.
These thoughts contrast starkly with what we see around us and what is reported every day in the media. It should be reiterated, then, that gazing on the crib does not distance us from the reality around us. In it we see wars, inequality, exploitation, attacks on innocent life, femicides, marginalization, disease, the disfigurement of creation, mourning… In the nativity scene, as on the Cross in an equally real way, Jesus identifies himself and makes himself present in all human situations of suffering, to console and to redeem.
This year, in a special way, we dare to celebrate Christmas in the midst of the endless battlefields where, every day, humanity is defeated. We ask for the miracle of seeing, beyond the trenches and barbed wire, brothers and sisters, men and women, the elderly and children, all loved by the Lord. Then will desire for peace and reconciliation be born and grow; then will the violence of explosions be replaced by works of justice; then will charity multiply.
It is time, then, this Christmas, to remember the essential; and the essential is the certainty that the Son of God has come and continues to come among us. The essential is to feel the closeness of a God who wants to keep us company. Let us support each other with creativity and affection, imagining ways to make ourselves present to our brothers and sisters, especially those who are most alone. And may the closeness of the infant Jesus strengthen hope in us, the hope which we are called to live out and bear witness to at this very time.
We wish all our subscribers, readers and friends a Holy Christmas and a New Year filled with hope, peace and fraternity. May the light of Bethlehem enlighten and guide all!
La Civiltà Cattolica