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It brings us back to what matters: Pope invites us to Nativity scene

Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 12/20/23

The crib is an education: to believe that God is with us and we are with Him ...
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Pope Francis says we need to spend some time in front of a Nativity scene during these days. And this Christmas, the Nativity scene tradition turns 800 years old.

“Eight hundred years ago this Christmas, in Greccio, St. Francis of Assisi recreated the scene of our Lord’s birth,” the Pope noted at the general audience of December 20.

The lovely tradition of setting up a Christmas Crib in our families and communities reminds us of the true meaning of Christ’s nativity: the closeness of our God, who came among us in poverty to enrich us with the gift of his saving love. May our contemplation of the Crib inspire us to celebrate these holy days in simplicity, spiritual joy, and gratitude for the gift of Christ’s presence among us, the source of our hope, the light of our lives and the promise of peace for our troubled world.

And the nativity scene is to bring us back to what matters: to God who comes to dwell among us. That’s why it’s important to look at the nativity scene, because it helps us understand what matters. And also the social relationships of Jesus in that moment: the family of Joseph and Mary, and loved ones, the shepherds. People before things. And so many times we put things before people. That doesn’t work.

“Let us touch God’s closeness in the Christmas crib and receive His joy,” the Pope invited in greetings to the various language groups.

He recommended preparing for Christmas in these last moments of Advent with prayer, the sacraments, and works of charity.

“In these days, we will see God lying in a manger: it is the strongest message of Peace for the life of each of us and for the world today,” he said.

The crib educates us to contemplate Jesus, to feel God’s love for us, to feel and to believe that God is with us and we are with Him, thanks to that Child Son of God and the Virgin Mary.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” he said, “the Nativity scene is like a small well from which to draw the nearness of God, the source of hope and joy. The Nativity scene is like a living Gospel, a domestic Gospel. Like the well in the Bible, it is the place of encounter where we bring to Jesus the expectations and worries of life, just as the shepherds of Bethlehem and the people of Greccio did. Bringing to Jesus the expectations and the worries of life.”

If, before the Nativity scene, we entrust to Jesus all we hold dear, we too will experience “great joy” (Mt 2:10), a joy that comes precisely from contemplation, from the spirit of amazement with which I go to contemplate these mysteries.

Let us go before the Nativity scene. Look, everyone, and allow your heart to feel something within. 

Here are 12 nativity scenes from the annual presentation of “100 Presepi” at the Vatican

ChristmasPope Francis
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