We rejoice! The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ is upon us once again. Merry Christmas everybody - or as a local carwash sign has it, “Happy Everything!” We remember that Christ was born in Bethlehem and we rejoice!
But why do we rejoice? Saint Pope John Paul II put it this way when he preached at Bethlehem (March 2000): “The joy announced by the angel is not a thing of the past. It is a joy of today… Because it is always Christmas in Bethlehem, every day is Christmas in the hearts of Christians. And every day we are called to proclaim the message of Bethlehem to the world.”
But how do we rejoice? While in the past Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he is born in Bronx-lehem this day. He is born anew in every place where faith-filled hearts welcome him with joy. I was reminded of this life-shaking truth as I participated in our Saint Francis Youth Center Nativity Play. Our young people prepared and practiced to re-enact that sacred story in the Bronx milieu. The characters all spoke with authentic NYC accents while Fr. Stan Fortuna provided the appropriate soundtrack (something to see and hear)! The message was clear: Yoforeal! Jesus is born for us, for us y’all and so we rejoice!
I remember the semester I spent abroad in Austria. The local churches had the Christmas crèche characters dressed in traditional Austrian outfits. The message was clear: Jesus is born for us and we rejoice. So, welcome him into your heart, your home and your town. I don’t know if Santa Claus is coming to your town, but Jesus certainly is. Simply add a “-lehem” to your location and dress those Nativity figures as farmers if you live in the Midwest! Jesus Christ is born for us and this makes everything happy!
+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
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