Isaiah 62,11-12; Psalm 96; Titus 3,4-7; Luke 2,15-20
It’s Christmas. Aside from one’s own birthday, this is perhaps a child’s most anticipated day of the year for it is a day of receiving gifts. The joy of receiving toys is all the more compounded as one discovers more features of the gift: say, that her doll can blink and talk, or that his little green car can flash lights and honk as it runs!
The joy of welcoming Christ at Christmas should likewise be exponentially compounded as we grow in faith and realize what Jesus came for. The shepherds were amazed to see the child Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem, just as told by the angels. In a manger, a feeding trough for animals: Yes, the Lord came to feed us. In Bethlehem, the ‘house of bread’: Yes, the Lord is the Bread of Life that nourishes us. The infant Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes. His first clothes were like the last piece of clothing that wraps the dead for burial. Yes, at birth, there was already a prefiguration that the Lord was to die for us so we may not succumb to eternal death.
The theme for this year’s Creche Festival, “Bethlehem Within” exhorts us to reflect on how we welcome the Incarnate Lord within. The lowly stable at the periphery of the town of Bethlehem as depicted in this year’s giant wreath is hardly noticeable if one does not look for it. Yet it’s there at the center. At the stable of the outdoor Creche installation, the feeding trough that is creatively propped with a mirror summons us to see ourselves as the real manger that the Lord wants to be born in.
How do we keep the spirit of Christmas, the growing excitement, the growing discoveries, and realizations of who and what Jesus really means to us? Mary points the way. Hearing the stories of how the shepherds were alerted by the angels, she kept everything in her heart, pondering, reflecting, exponentially compounding her initial yes to God’s will until she finds herself at the foot of the Cross of her beloved Son. May we likewise grow in receptivity to Christ as we continue to encounter Him.
Now, as we celebrate Christmas, we come to this ‘Liturgical House of Bread’ to be nourished with the Bread of Life. For the One who is food for us, and the One who died for us, is the One who is born for us so that we may live, so that we may be reborn into everlasting life.
Today we praise God for this most wonderful mystery, for the most generously given of all His gifts, for a baby, for Love Incarnate, for Jesus Christ – born for us so we may be well-nourished, so that our sins may be forgiven, and so that we may live forever.