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“What does it profit me if Jesus is born in thousands of cribs all over the world and He is not born in my heart?”(Pope Alexander). From the very beginning of Advent let us make sure not to miss Jesus in the crib of our hearts amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations and celebrations.

There was a crib competition in my parish. About 20 families participated. Before the midnight Mass competitors did the final touches to their cribs before the judges set out to evaluate and grade them. As the judges finished their viewing and grading, people were allowed to go around and enjoy/view the cribs. After the tabulations they announced the grades for the cribs competition.

Among the cribs was one that was very outstanding and everybody thought that it would get the first prize. Unfortunately it was not selected. So people started to whisper about the decision of the judges.

Meanwhile there was a small boy who was moving from crib to crib watching carefully. When he reached that particular crib which everybody thought to be the best, he observed it very closely and shouted “Mummy, Mummy, there is no babe Jesus”.

What joy or profit is there for us if we celebrate Christmas without Jesus being born in our hearts, families and society? How can we celebrate a merry and meaningful Christmas with Babe Jesus?

1.      Prepare our Hearts, Home and Society for Jesus: We can do it with the sacrament of reconciliation, cleaning and decorating our homes with Christmas decorations and trees and entering into the spirit of Advent by forgiving, forgetting and fasting and thereby inviting others to conversion by changing our habits and behavior.

2.      Long for and invite Jesus into our lives by our constant prayers and contemplation like our Blessed Mother: Throughout these 25 days of Advent, let us continue to repeat small prayers/mantras like; “Jesus I love you, come into my heart, family and society” as many times as possible. Further, it would be nice to start contemplating with our Blessed Mary from the Annunciation to the birth of Jesus, prayerfully looking into the mission and message of Christmas. There is a traditional custom of reciting 40 Hail Mary’s and 4 Our Fathers each for the 25 days of Advent and offering it to Babe Jesus as a spiritual bouquet on Christmas day.

3.      Reading the good news daily: During the Advent season, let us find time to do Lectio Divina from the first chapter of the Gospel of Mathew and let us underline the touching words/phrase in our own bible.

4.      Sacrifice – a sign of love: Let us pick up one of our favorite foods/hobbies and abstain from it for 25 days to offer it as our personal gift to Jesus on the Christmas day.

In short let Jesus be the center of our Christmas celebration and let us not miss Him amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

God bless your Advent journey.

Fr. Zach, MST

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