Many, many years ago Art Linkletter (you have to be of a certain age to remember him) had a TV show which gave birth to a book called, Kids Say the Darndest Things. And they do. One grandfather told me of his grandson’s coming to church with his mother and asking where Jesus was. She was patiently explaining about Jesus’ presence in the tabernacle when the child exclaimed’ “There he is,” pointing to the crucifix suspended over the altar, “on the trapeze”. Bil Keane, author of The Family Circus, one time drew a cartoon in which one of the children, I believe it was Billy, was pointing to a picture of Jesus in the manger and saying: “Look at this one, Mommy! Baby Jesus/ in a nest!”
While I appreciated the humor, I was touched at another level. In Advent we prepare a Christ-home within us, a nest, so to speak.* Nests are made from everyday material such as twigs, grass, pebbles, mud, feathers, saliva and just about anything else imaginable. Different birds construct their nests of different things and with various degrees of skill. The Baltimore Oriole, for example, has a tightly woven nest in the shape of a cylinder. IT is attached to a branch, hanging upside down with opening on the bottom. The wren’s nest is also quite neatly made whereas the Osprey’s home looks like, well, a mess, having large sticks, paper and plastic, fish bones, and God knows what. It resembles many living rooms or dens on Christmas morning after the presents are opened.
The point is this: the materials or the manner does not matter as much as the fact that some place is prepared in some way to welcome new life and to be the place where that new life is nurtured and protected.
So it is with us this Christmas. We welcome again Jesus into our lives. Some of us have made careful preparations; others, a bit less; but, we are here, having made space in our lives/constructed out of our fears, pains, and sorrows as well as our dreams, hopes and joys to be filled with presence of our Savior. And, the good news is that Jesus comes, no matter the beauty or the disarray of our space hollowed out for him or the amount of time taken to prepare it. He comes nevertheless!
And now that Jesus is here, we are to nurture that presence, to feed it and to protect it, to ensure its growth by prayer, the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and our good works; to welcome Him, not just for the moment as a guest, but to invite him to stay as a permanent resident. He is here. He is with you. He is with us. Emmanuel, God with us!
MERRY CHRISTMAS! MERRY CHRIST’S MASS!
*Cf. p. 151, Fresh Bread, Joyce Rupp, OSM, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1985