On the solemnity of the Holy Christmas, the angel’s announcement to the shepherds resounds once again for all of us as well: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ” (Luke 2:10-11). On that night in Bethlehem, such words had aroused the desire to go and contemplate this great event. This is how Luke’s Gospel describes it to us: “… the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.'” (Luke 2:15).
The amazement reaches its fullness when, having gone to the cave, the shepherds found the child, just as they had been told: “And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:16).
Every year we who are consecrated are also called to relive and retrace this itinerary. In front of the manger, whose eighth centenary we celebrate as Franciscans, we are called back to receive and rediscover that joy, that wonder that the mystery holds.
The darkness of that night as of all human nights is now illuminated by this decisive event for our salvation: the Son of God became man, entered our history in a unique way to allow every man and woman to enter into the mystery of God. Inter-Trinitarian love encounters a vanishing point where it reaches out through gestures and words to each of us to make us sharers in a communion of divine persons that transcends anything man could ever have desired or conceived.
At Christmas, we are not simply limited to remembering a past event but, as one consecrated to Mary, we are called to keep and meditate on the Word of God: “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19).
Loving attention, the Franciscan joy, the amazement, should be the sentiments that flourishes in our hearts and impel us to an disposition of gratitude and adoration to God who, as the Virgin’s first disciple St. John would later say, “so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not be lost but have eternal life” (John 3:16).