The Nativity Scene

Every Nativity scene is a “living Gospel,” as Pope Francis says. Looking at the Child in the manger, I try to understand what this means. What is a “living Gospel”? One clear message flowing from the scene is that we must turn and become like children to enter the kingdom of heaven. In Matthew 18:1-8, God’s words tell us that to acknowledge the rights and dignity of children is to acknowledge Him and accept His meaning of life. The message clearly implies every child has a universal inalienable right to equal status, equal rights and equal dignity. To deny this is to deny ourselves.

As a child, Jesus was threatened with death, fled to Egypt to avoid danger and became a poverty-stricken refugee. How many refugees today are fleeing violence, seeking safety and rejected by many who claim to be Christian but discriminate against them. Jesus wants us to give them respect, food, shelter and a welcome. This small gesture will assure happiness and a healthy society. Why is it that in our materialistic world, even though Jesus inspires the principles and values behind “human rights”, his name is rarely mentioned.

The Nativity scene also communicates a message that the world should live out the important values of life more actively. These values include our relationship with each other, with the poor, the oppressed, the refugee, the unborn child, the elderly, in short, the “world’s unimportant people” living around us. “We can see the invisible in what God has made visible”, St. Paul says. From the beginning, Jesus upsets every standard by which the unredeemed world has ruled itself. To celebrate this little child’s birth in truth is to allow our eyes to be opened to God’s view of reality.

Will I take this child Jesus into my heart? Will I bring Him into a dark, lonely, and cold world? If I dare to do so, Christmas this year will not be an event of the past but a reality that continues in the present and into the future. Jesus is alive and active in me. Come, let us adore Him!

Jerry Novotny, OMI

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