There are many ways that we can interpret the Birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The most obvious is of course His birth about 2000 years ago in the cave of Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. This we celebrate every year as the culmination of the Advent Season. However, there are many other spiritual and mystical ways that we can allow Jesus to be born in our world, in our communities, in our parishes, in our families and in our own hearts. This birth of Jesus can be as often as our hearts are willing to receive Him.
More than an essay, we offer you ten points to meditate upon to enrich your understanding of the Birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May Jesus be born in your heart in time and for all eternity!
1. Incarnation and Birth. Jesus came into time about 2000 years ago through the consent of the Virgin Mary—and the Word became flesh and lived among us. The reason? Love for all of humanity and for all of us individually. Due to the Original sin of our 1st parents—Adam and Eve—the gates of heaven were closed. Therefore Jesus and Mary, the 2ndAdam and the 2nd Eve, came into the world to repair the sins of our 1st parents and to open the gates of heaven so that we can be saved. The name of Jesus means “Savior”; He came to save us of our sins.
2. Birth. In poverty, humility, simplicity, and obedience to the will of the Father Jesus was born. Enemies to living out the Birth of Jesus now this Christmas is materialism that leads to consumerism and hedonism and slavery to the created things and forgetting the Creator of all things. Ven. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen reminds us: “The creator of the universe had no place to be born in His own creation.”
3. Church is Mater et Magistra—Pope Saint John XXIII. This was an encyclical of this newly canonized Pope. As Mother, the Church brings forth new children. Many say that they love Jesus but that they do not like, nor can they even stand the church. Wrong reasoning! Jesus said that He would be with us always even until the end of time. (Mt. 28) He is present with us in His Mystical Body now in the Catholic Church. Therefore, Jesus is born in time through grace through the workings of His Mystical Body: the Catholic Church.
4. Sacramental Life. This bringing forth Jesus in new life is especially expressed in the administration and the worthy reception of the Sacraments—the most powerful and efficacious means of grace. There are seven and they can be divided into three categories: 1) Sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation; 2) Healing: Confession and the Anointing of the Sick; 3) Service—the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony.
5. Baptism. Talking to Nicodemus at night Jesus says that man must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus has a too natural interpretation of the Words of Jesus and believes that he has to enter the womb again of his mother. Jesus clarifies this by saying that man must born again of water and the spirit. (Jn. 3:1-15 ) This passage and conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus points to our 2nd birth of water and spirit and this is the Sacrament of Baptism. This was truly our 2nd birth. It might not be a bad new custom to establish in families to do this: celebrate two birthdays—one’s; natural birth and his spiritual birth or Baptism. Buy the cake and ice-cream and candles twice a year! Parents can use this as a catechetical tool to educate their children on the importance of Baptism, its meaning, its serious character, and the obligation to live out one’s Baptismal commitment. This means in concrete that the baptized person must renounce Satan and all of his pomps and pursue a life of holiness. Indeed Baptism demands that we pursue holiness of life; all of us are called to become saints!
6. Confession, Penance, and Reconciliation. The two greatest tragedies that could befall the human person are the following: committing a mortal sin and worse yet would be to die in mortal sin. Good news! If we have the misfortune to fall into mortal sin there is always hope and trust in the infinite mercy of Jesus. This becomes a reality through Sacramental Confession. Mortal sin is the death of the soul. Sacramental Confession is being born through the grace of God and cleansing from the Precious Blood of Jesus. The Doctor of Grace, the great Saint Augustine who lived many years far from God, stated that a good Sacramental Confession is a “Lazarus experience”. (Jn. 11) Lazarus was dead for four days and buried in the tomb. Jesus approached the tomb and cried in a loud voice: “Lazarus come out!” This dead man came out of the tomb alive and was given back to his sisters Martha and Mary. This was an anticipation of the Paschal Mystery of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus would die on the cross, but rise to new life and give us new life and life in abundance. Saint Thomas Aquinas asserted: “The return of a sinner to the state of grace is greater than the creation of the whole natural universe.” A wonderful proposal for Advent and Lent would be to make a good confession, to bring our whole family to make a good confession, to bring some wayward soul back to confession, and to become an Apostle of the Confession. Preparing well this Sacrament and receiving it well indeed is the birth of Jesus in the depths of our souls.
7. Sacramental Marriage. Unfortunately, due to paganism, secularism, moral relativism and the presence of the devil, many couples today start to live together. This has many names: cohabitation, free-union, trial-marriage, “Shacking out together”, married civilly. For two baptized Catholics to live in this state is to be living in the state of mortal sin and to be jeopardizing one’s eternal salvation. Therefore, a couple who decided to take the necessary steps for Sacramental marriage and then to get married will be experiencing the birth of Jesus in their hearts, souls, lives and families the day of the wedding. We should all promote traditional marriages, getting married in the church and encouraging the many couples today who live in free union to have their union blessed by the presence of Jesus who rejoiced with the married couple in Cana. It was here where Jesus did His 1st Public miracle in changing water into wine through the intercession of Mary, His Mother. (Jn. 2: 1- 12)
8. Mass and Eucharist. In a very special way Jesus is born at every Mass. Actually the word “Christmas” means the Mass of Christ. Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means the House of Bread. Jesus is born in the hands of the Ordained Catholic priest at the moment of consecration. Still more important: the moment of Holy Communion. The most sublime moment in the life of the human person is the moment when he receives worthily Holy Communion. Indeed in that moment, Jesus is born in his own interior Bethlehem. The heart and soul of the communicant becomes the place that Jesus is truly born. For that reason it is so important to prepare our souls well to allow Jesus to be born in our hearts in Holy Communion. This indeed is Christmas. Christmas can be every day that we attend Mass, participate fully and receive Jesus with great purity, love, humility and confidence.
9. Preaching and the Birth of Jesus. The Church teaches that one of the primary duties of the priest is the preaching of the word of God—how important this task! How is this carried out? Let us try to follow this dynamic! When a holy priest meditates on the Word of God, then that Word goes from his eyes into his heart and lives there. Jesus has been born in the heart of the priest through mental prayer. Then the task of preaching follows. The priest prays over what he has meditated, begging for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Then he preaches to the people. If the people have an open heart, mind and soul then there is birth. The priest as preacher opens his mouth and preaches the Word of God; the word goes into the ears of the listeners; from the ears it goes into the mind which contains both memory and understanding. Then from the mind the word sinks into the depths of the heart. From the heart this word is translated into the life and blossoms in fruitful actions that we call virtues. Indeed a true preacher of the Word of God brings forth spiritual life every time he sincerely preaches the Word of God. On one occasion a woman in the crowd praised the womb that bore Jesus and the breasts that nursed Jesus. But then Jesus praises His Mother Mary with these words: “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and put it into practice.” For this reason Saint Augustine teaches that Mary first conceived Jesus in her mind even before she conceived Him in her womb!
10. Christ’s Birth and the death of saints. The Church has an interesting and somewhat paradoxical teaching: When a saint dies, he does not really dies but is transferred into a realm of true and eternal life—this we call Heaven. For that reason, the life of grace is the life of new birth in Christ. It should be our daily and constant effort to grow in grace, protect the life of grace in our souls and beg for the grace to die in the state of grace. If done, we will live forever in heaven. Let us pray to Our Lady that Jesus will be born in our hearts, today, tomorrow, and at the hour of our death. “Hail Mary full of grace….pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”