By Teresa Rocha
On Dec. 25 we celebrate the birth of Jesus. On that holy night, Christ, the King of the Universe, came to us in a most humble and insignificant way. At that moment He brought us the wrapped gift of salvation – only to be opened with His death on the cross.
In the Gospel of Luke (2:11) we read of this glorious moment when the only ones around this great king, our Lord and Savior, were his mother and father and shepherds: the “anawim” (a Hebrew word meaning poor ones). It was a simpler time in that stable in Bethlehem. The divine child was born, and the grace and the light of God appeared to the world without the fanfare of royalty and commercialism.
Another year has passed, and we again recall this holy and blessed gift of Jesus’ birth. In this season of Christmas, we are called to pause and reflect on this marvelous loving God who wants to join us and shower us with the gifts that will last for eternity. For all of us, this Christmas season should not be just another opportunity to monetize a holiday, but rather a time to invite Jesus Christ our King to live in our hearts and in our families. I’m not minimizing gift-giving in general but asking you to consider true gift-giving – to give the gifts that keep on giving.
This Christmas season can be a wonderful opportunity for families to stop and renew the commitment of witnessing life, not just what it means to live individually but to live as a family unit, caring for one another with the image of the fragile baby Jesus. This Christmas season can be the beginning of something new in the family. Sometimes there is a feeling that once the presents are opened it is over, but actually it is just the beginning.
These are some family traditions you can implement to help put God at the center this Christmas season:
1. Blessing the Christmas tree using the following prayer: Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we illumine this tree. May the light and cheer it gives be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts. May all who delight in this tree come to the knowledge and joy of salvation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
2. Blessing the Nativity set, where the youngest child in the family places baby Jesus in the manger and the father or mother reads the Gospel of Luke 2:1-20.
3. Attending Mass as an offering of thanksgiving for the baby Jesus who was born for the salvation of the world.
4. Reading and faith sharing on the story of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:1-20.
5. Joining with friends, neighbors and other families by singing carols.
6. Doing the fun activities such as the ones below (word search and crossword puzzle) with your children to continue to focus on Jesus this Christmas season.
7. Selecting a neighborhood charity where the collection and donation of food and toys can be given to those with less.
The message of the angel is an invitation to join in proclaiming to the world, “Glory to God in the highest of heavens, peace on earth to those who he loves (Lk. 2:14).
Christmas is the miracle of God among us. God is truly present in the lives of each heart that is open to his message. He is the great light that shines bearing peace. Our faith tells us that nothing should disturb us because the love of God the savior is within us, and all one needs to do is to respond with faithful trust. Our invitation this Christmas is to be like the shepherds: “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told to them” (Luke 2:20).
Teresa Rocha is the High Desert and San Bernardino Vicariate Coordinator for the Office of Catechetical Ministry.