Last Monday, January 8, was the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Even though by then many Christmas trees had already made their way to the curb, and radio stations stopped playing Christmas music, Jesus’ baptism is what marks the official end of the liturgical season of Christmas for the Catholic Church. So, with all the shopping and wrapping, packing and traveling, cooking and cleaning, and hosting during the Christmas season behind us, I leave you with this to consider as we begin our new year.
Remember that Nativity Set you packed away? Think about it for a few minutes. Pull it out and set it up for a while longer. Here is a picture of a Nativity ornament that I just dug out and set back up on the bookcase. I bought it in Bethlehem for Kimberly while visiting the Holy Land. Pope Francis said the Nativity set is a beautiful representation of everything we believe in the Gospels. He said standing before a Nativity scene reminds us of the time we were children eagerly waiting to celebrate Christmas. Not just receiving gifts from Santa. But, receiving the most precious gift of our Christian faith - the birth of a little infant Savior 2000 years ago. At the same time, he says we are reminded of our duty to share this experience and our faith with our children and grandchildren.
Pope Francis said it doesn’t matter how many camels or shepherds or angels or stars your Nativity set has. It can even change from year to year. What matters is that our Nativity set reminds us of the love of God. The God who did not remain invisible to us. The God who became human so we know how close he is to every man, woman, and child, regardless of their condition. He said the Nativity set also reminds us of the importance to pause during our busy day and focus on what truly matters in life – to open ourselves to listen to God who speaks to us – so we can invite Jesus into our life. Because when Jesus abides in our life, our life is reborn. And if life is reborn, it is truly Christmas no matter what time of year it is.
As we bid farewell to Christmas in the rearview mirror, and dive into a new year of loving and serving the Lord in our everyday lives, may our Nativity set be our reminder that Jesus – Emmanuel – the Word made flesh - will be with us every step of the way.
- Adapted from “Christmas at the Nativity “by Pope Francis and FaithND.edu.