By Fr. Erik Esparza
Each Christmas we are offered so many opportunities to reflect on the meaning of Christmas. What helps you to reflect on Christmas? Is it when you put up your Christmas lights or tree? Is it through your gift giving for family, friends, or for those most in need?
Is it in your kitchen where you take the time to bake surprises for others to feast? Is it while you volunteer at a local soup kitchen to ensure all have a warm meal to eat? Is it at the celebration of Christmas Mass where God’s family comes together?
Wherever you are and in whatever you do, take the time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
One way to more deeply reflect on Christmas is to gather around a nativity. In fact, I encourage you to spend some time during the Christmas Season with your own nativity scene at home. Take a moment to read chapter two from both the Gospel of St. Matthew and the Gospel of St. Luke to hear once more the story of Christmas. This can be done in private devotion or gathered in prayer with your family. The time to read scripture and for prayerful reflection gives you a quiet moment in the midst of the hustle and bustle of these days to reflect on the great gift of love, the Incarnation.
One part of the Christmas story that comes to mind for me can be found in the Gospel of St. Luke (2:7) when Joseph and Mary upon arrival into Bethlehem were unable to find any room for them in the inn. In response to this lack of room for the Holy Family, Jesus is born and laid in a manger. There is a deeper meaning to this part of the story besides there simply being no room in the inn. You see, there is an invitation to consider this question: is there a part of your life where there is no room for Christ? We can easily look at this scene from the Christmas story and comment on how horrible it was that no one offered a room for the arrival of the newborn King. The true meaning of Christmas includes making room in our own hearts and lives to receive the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is a temptation to love Jesus, yet deny his presence in certain aspects of our lives. We celebrate Jesus’ love yet we deny that love to others. We are grateful for the blessings from God yet do not share those blessings with others. We bask in the mercy of God yet do not offer the same mercy to others.
This Christmas use the time to reflect on where you might not have room in your inn for Jesus. What door needs to be opened or what space needs to welcome the newborn King? Jesus comes into the messiness of our lives just like that first Christmas to bring his presence of light and love. Do not miss out on this presence, for we are all in need of more light and love in our lives.
Now go forth and be a joyful witness!
Fr. Erik Esparza is Associate Director in the Office of Priest Personnel for the Diocese of San Bernardino.