Parents remember many things about their children. From the moment of learning that a new life has been conceived, the husband and wife are forever changed. With joyful anticipation, they begin to plan and prepare for new footprints within their home. During this time of preparation, they also receive another and quite unexpected gift. Prior to the news of a new child, they have mainly focused upon themselves. Now, however, they begin the process of attending to the needs of others. After having received this new life outlook, it is as though they have received a new prescription for eyeglasses.
Looking around, what do they see?
One of my favorite memories surrounding the blessed Feast of Christmas is of my oldest daughter. Then two years old, we had just returned home from a Christmas Eve visit with grandparents. Following our family tradition, each child unwraps one gift on Christmas Eve; for my daughter, that gift was a small baby doll. During our one-hour drive home, she held it tightly. Soon after walking into the house, her tired eyes gave way to sweet dreams. Several hours later, I remember walking into her room. Amidst the silence of that holy night, I found her fast asleep, still holding that doll deep within her arms.
For me, Christmas is like that. As we peer into a traditional representation of the Nativity, we find many participants. From the loving gaze of Saint Joseph and our Blessed Mother to that of the angels, kings, stars, and animals. Each has been given a role and remains fixed upon the One who has drawn them to that sacred spot in the town of Bethlehem.
According to the Gospel of Luke (2:1-14): While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy, that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly, there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Given that two thousand years separate us from that divine and historic event, some claim that the Nativity is unreachable. But for those able to see through the eyes of faith, the Holy Family is closer than we might think.
Looking around, what do we see?