“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.”
The sign given by the angel of the newborn Savior is a child, small and defenseless. A child so poor that it is wrapped in swaddling clothes and lies not in a cradle but in a manger, the feeding trough for animals. What kind of a sign is this?
In one of his Christmas homilies, Benedict XVI tells us that “God’s sign, the sign given to the shepherds and to us, is not an astonishing miracle. God’s sign is his humility. God’s sign is that he makes himself small; he becomes a child; he lets us touch him and he asks for our love.” In the baby Jesus, the infinite God makes himself tiny so we can hold him in our hands; the almighty God makes himself powerless so we can love him without fear of his greatness.
In our diocese, we have been reflecting on the spirituality of stewardship during the nine days of the Christmas novena. We believe that living the spirituality of stewardship will help us live our Christian discipleship more concretely. When we become aware that all we are and have come from God, that we are not owners of anything, but only stewards, we become more THANKFUL, RESPONSIBLE and GENEROUS. For indeed, all is grace.
We have reflected on how God has entrusted everything to us: our life, our family, our community, the Church… and the whole of creation. We are stewards of all these goods for which we are thankful and responsible to God. And as God is generous to us with his abundant goodness, we become generous in sharing the same goodness with others.
On Christmas Day, we celebrated yet another good (the greatest good, in fact), which God entrusts to us – no less and no other than Himself. It is for this reason that makes himself a child – so he can entrust himself totally into our hands. All he asks is that we receive him and love him and, like Mary and Joseph, bring him into the world.
In 1994, at the end the cold war, the Russian Department of Education invited two Americans to teach Christian ethics in their public schools, prisons and various institutions. In an orphanage of some 100 children (mostly abandoned and abused), the American guests decided to narrate the Christmas story since it was winter time. The children listened in great amazement as it was their first time to hear the story.
At the end, they were given some cardboards, papers and other assorted materials, and asked to create their own representation of the nativity scene. Many succeeded in faithfully depicting the story in their own creative ways. One particular work caught the attention of the guests when they found two babies in the crib. Curious whether the owner fully understood the story, they asked him to recount it in his own words (with the help of an interpreter). The child started to tell the story accurately at first until he came to the part where Mary laid her child in the crib. Then he began to ad lib and made his own ending of the story.
He said that when Mary put the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at him and asked if he had a place to stay. The child answered no for he had no mama and papa. Then Jesus invited him to stay with him. Again, the child answered no for he had no gift like all the others. Deep in his heart though, he wanted so much to stay with Jesus. So, he thought again and got an idea. He asked Jesus, “If I could keep you warm, would you accept it as a gift?” Jesus smiled and answered, “If you keep me warm, that would be the greatest gift anyone can give me.” And so he hopped into the manger. With tears in his eyes, he ended his story saying, “Then Jesus looked at me and told me that I could stay with him – for always.”
Keep Jesus ever warm in your heart, and share him generously with everyone as good stewards of God’s greatest gift. May you have a Blessed Christmas!*