A group of tourists visited a small town in Old Castile, Spain. The rural town was almost abandoned with only a few people living there. The tourists met a farmer and asked him: “Probably few children are born here every year, are they?” The farmer answered: “Only one child every year: the one we place in the Crib at Christmas.”  In Christmas, the divine Child is born again in our liturgy, in our hearts – if we are prepared to receive him.

Isaiah prophesized: “For a child is born for us, a son given us…” (Is 9:6). Saint Paul: “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all” (Tit 2:11). The Angel to the shepherds: “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you:  you will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:10-12).

Through Christmas, we celebrate the Nativity of the Lord. Through the lovely Christmas season, we contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation of the only-Begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, in the womb of Mary, his Mother. Amazing grace: God so loved the world that He gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16). Why such an incredible grace? The principal motive of the incarnation of Christ is the redemption of mankind (St. Thomas Aquinas).

Let me share with you a few stories – and significant quotes – that might be helpful to you as they are to me.

(1) A Christmas Carol from Belgium tells us something truly moving: The shepherds go to offer gifts to the Child Jesus: cheese, honey, a lamb… One shepherd goes with empty hands. Why do you come to adore the little Child without any gift? The shepherd answers: “I only bring my surprise!” Every Christmas brings us believers an unimaginable surprise: And the Word became flesh and lived among us (Jn 1:14). What a sublime surprise! What an incomparable beauty! St. John of God loved it: “If you wish to see and contemplate beauty on earth, ask the Lord to give you: eyes to see a young girl with a little child on her arms in a portico of Bethlehem. There is nothing more beautiful.

How do we respond to the unique surprise of the mystery of the birth of Jesus? By striving – I suggest – to celebrate Christmas with the right attitude: a prayerful, humble, hopeful    and joyful attitude.

(2) A large family in a rural town goes to the Christmas Midnight Mass, except a young man who stays home. Why? Because he cannot believe that God became man. This is – he said – impossible! There was that night a raging snow storm. It was windy and freezing. From the window of his room, he sees a flock of birds in the backyard: the birds are looking for shelter. He tries to help them by opening the door of the barn, but the birds are afraid and do not follow him to the barn. He puts bread crumbs along the way leading to the barn. No dice. He tries to befriend the birds by walking and raising his arms as if flying. Once again, no dice. But then, the young man realizes something: “If only I could be a bird for a moment, perhaps I could save them.” At that very moment, the story goes, he hears the church bells ringing the Glory of Christmas and became aware of the mystery of the Incarnation: “Now – he says – I see why God has to become one of us, to save us” (from Louis Cassels).

Jesus became what we are that we might become what He is(St. Athanasius).  

(3) A Play of the Nativity is performed by little children. Their parents and teachers are present. Enter the angels, then the shepherds, and then Mary and Joseph. They are looking (in Bethlehem) for a place to stay, and where Mary would be able to give birth to the unborn Child Jesus. Mary and Joseph knocked at the door of the inn, and a little child of six opened the door. Joseph asked him: “Please, can we have a room for the night?” The boy innkeeper answered: “Sorry, there is no room in the inn.” But immediately the boy changed his mind and said (and this he invented): “Hang on! Don’t go away. You may have my room (from Margaret Silf).

May Jesus have my room – my heart? May He have yours? Each one of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus” (Max Maxwell).He comes again this Christmas. There will be no room for Jesus in proud, selfish, unforgiving, insensitive hearts. With God’s available grace, however, there is always the possibility of repentance: today, because tomorrow never comes!

 To have a room for Jesus today means particularly to be truly sensitive towards the needy in our midst. Words to ponder:“Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts…  I’m sure that the shepherds did not adore and then go away to leave Mary and her Child in the stable; but somehow found them room, even though what they had to offer might have been primitive enough. If we hadn’t got Christ’s own words for it, it would seem raving lunacy to believe that if I offer a bed and food and hospitality for Christmas – or any other time, for that matter – …my guest is Christ…” (Dorothy Day). Yes, on the background of the real manger, we can read these invisible words from Jesus, the preacher: What you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do it to me (Mt 25:40).

The Birth of Jesus is closely linked to the Eucharist: “Mary was the first tabernacle who carried Christ within her and gave birth to the One who would say, ‘I am the living bread come down from heaven’” (Fulton Sheen). Through the Christmas Season, let us celebrate the Holy Eucharist with hopeful faith, joyful gratitude, and, above all, with an attitude of humble, loving adoration.

Marvelous: the amazing and awesome grace of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  Mary and Joseph, pray for us.