By Sister Phyllis McMurray, OSB
Most of us are captivated by the Christmas story. A feeling of wonder and calm fills the air as we listen to the story of the birth of Jesus from Luke’s gospel. We picture a quiet, serene night with Mary, Joseph and the child Jesus, angels and shepherds.
If you grew up in a Christian home, you had a crib set that helped shape your image of what it was like that first Christmas night. Placing the figures and wondering about each of them was a lesson in discovering some of the meaning of Jesus’ birth.
We had a crib set when I was a child. I recently set it up in my office. Sister Stefanie’s pre-schoolers visited my office on a tour of the monastery. A hush came over them as they surrounded the crib. Then, out of the quiet, one child exclaimed, “It looks so real!”
We can get so caught up in the beautiful nativity scene that we miss the reality of what actually happened that night. God approached gently, almost secretly, but certainly with love. Love became Incarnate. The infant cried. God is real.
God is a constant, caring presence who lives within us. God comes to us in those we know and love. And God comes, not always recognized, in those we may not like.
How can we relate with divine love unless we share the love poured out on us with others? We cannot take on all the injustice and needs of the world, but we can look honestly on the vast human need for food, support, love and caring. We are called to love our families and friends, the stranger and the enemy, the forgotten, the sick and dying, the lonely—the list is endless. Mindful that God dwells within us, we can be instruments of creative, healing love.
May this God of hidden wonder expand our minds and stretch our imaginations that we may not only wonder at his appearing, but also make real the generosity of God’s love by giving what we can to those in need.
The birth of Jesus brought hope to the world. May His presence fill you with love and a hope that will overflow to others this Christmas and in the new year.