The story of today is so familiar yet so new every year, every Christmas. It is so simple and beautiful that a child can grasp the image of a baby in a manger and so meaningful that we, no matter our age, can learn something from every telling. My favorite part of Christmas is the re-telling of that story in the children’s Mass I attend. In a dramatization called a posada
, young people – probably about 13 years old – play the part of Mary and Joseph. Wearing simple costumes, they travel through the darkened, crowded church, stopping at several places to ask for a room for the night, only to be turned away. At the back of the church, a new mother hands over a little just-months-old baby to Mary. The two young people walk up the church’s center aisle, Mary oh-so-carefully holding the small bundle of life. The priest meets them before the Nativity scene at the altar and the little baby takes his (or her) place in the manger for a few moments of prayer before Mass starts.
This simple re-enactment always brings tears to my eyes because the presence of that little baby really brings home the grace of God becoming man. Despite the hardship and the pain, there is such joy at any birth. The act of God becoming man in a humble, all-too-human way can give us all hope in the rebirth of goodwill and peace. We are people who have walked in darkness and now have seen a great light. We can sing a new song, be glad and rejoice. The grace of God is here to help us learn to live temperately, justly and devoutly in this age. Let us take this story and the good news of great joy into our hearts and let the joy and peace flourish. Let us be thankful for this great light. Let us keep the light burning brightly in our hearts and in our lives. Let us hold this simple story in our hearts throughout the year.