THE GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS

 Meditation on the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ 

We celebrate with utmost joy the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We recall that solemn moment in human history when God took flesh and dwelt among us. This celebration offers us a special opportunity to welcome Him anew with renewed hearts, and deepen our love for Him. The mystery of His birth is hidden and also shines out in the events through which it was communicated.

At that time, Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census. Joseph took Mary and travelled from Nazareth in Galilee to his home town of Bethlehem in Judea. As Mary entered labour, Joseph could not find a room in a place he called his home. Whenever we ‘decorate’ this earthly life as our ‘home’, it becomes difficult to have ‘room’ to welcome Jesus. “He came to His own, yet His people did not receive Him; but to all who received Him, He empowers to become children of God, for they believed in His name (Jn 1:11-12). Mary gave birth to Jesus and wrapped Him in swaddling cloth and laid Him in a manger (Lk 2:6-7). The lowly birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords shook heaven and earth as Angels descended. Amid the clamour and complexity of our lives, Jesus needs a little ‘manger-space’ to enter. If we understand this, we can begin to wind down the uproar within and remodel our hearts like the simple manager that tenders to the Baby Jesus.

It all happened in Bethlehem-Ephrathah, a little hill town in Judah. Jacob blessed his son, Judah, saying, “The sceptre shall not be taken from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet…” (Gen 49:8-12). Another name for Bethlehem is “Ephrath” (Gen 35:16-20). “Ephrath” means ‘fruitfulness”. Though the town is the smallest among the clans of Judah, it is called, ‘Bethlehem Ephrata’, which means it is the ‘fruitful Bethlehem’ (Micah 5:1-2). “The earth has yielded its fruit; for God, our God has blessed us” (Ps 67:6). Bethlehem was the city of David, the little shepherd boy whom God anointed to become the great King (1 Sam 16:1). Joseph the simple carpenter from the lineage of David became the foster Father, through whom Jesus is called The Son of David. We rejoice and meditate on how God puts down the mighty from their thrones and lifts the lowly.

The darkness of the night received the Light of the World; the lowliness of the manger harboured the exalted King. The silence of the night echoed the Angelic chorus, and the loneliness of Mary and Joseph was flooded with faithful visitors. He who was rejected at the Inn became the most sought for as shepherds squat around the manger. God is with us! Human history now bears witness to the divine presence. Now strength can germinate from weakness; courage stands up from fear. Our silence speaks, and human loneliness and rejection are flooded with divine warmth. The beauty of Christmas sneaks in the silence of our lowly hearts with its bundle of joy that settles therein like the tender Baby Jesus in the manger! The joy of Christmas uplifts us. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace amongst men with whom He is pleased!” (Lk 2:14). Amen.

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Lagos.
Friday 25th December 2020.
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord.

www.nwachinwe.blogspot.com

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