Welcoming Our Savior

As we walk through the streets of New York these days, we look up and see thousands of Christmas lights, stores bright with signs, and people shopping for gifts. A couple of our Sisters were walking through a sea of shoppers when a man stopped them and shared that this is his first Christmas in the United States. He seemed overwhelmed by all that hustle and bustle and asked with a concerned look in his eye, “Sisters, this is about welcoming a Savior right? We are welcoming our Savior!” The Sisters responded , “Yes, you are right, we are welcoming our Savior!” In these final days leading up to Christmas, in the midst of so many preparations, shopping, wrapping gifts, cooking, it is good to pause to see if our hearts are ready for Christ to come. We may spend so much time on exterior preparations, that we forget the interior preparation. As our friend from overseas reminded us, this is all about welcoming our Savior!

The days of Advent prepare us for Christmas, when Mercy Himself is born. We sing, “O come Emmanuel,” and in the liturgy we pray, “Come Lord and do not delay!” We know now more than ever that our world, indeed each one of us, needs a Savior, because we can not save ourselves. We need His light, His hope, and His love and we cry out to Him, “Save us, O Savior of the World.”

During Christmastime, we have a heightened awareness and can recognize the places in our lives where we sense the presence of God, warm friendships, loving relationships, the kindness of strangers, and the innocent joy of children. Perhaps there are other places in our hearts that feel poor, lost, or wounded, and we wonder if we can welcome Christ into those places. Our faith assures us that whenever we invite Him to come into our hearts, Jesus comes. Jesus addresses each of us and asks, is there room in the inn of our hearts for Him to be born? Is there room for Him in our relationships? Is there room for Him in our families? There are places in our hearts that may feel cold or dark, yet the manger is proof that our Savior will come. In His divine wisdom, God chose to come to us as a tiny baby, meek and poor. He chose to be born in the most lowly of circumstances. The manger teaches us that there are no places too dark for His light. The dark places in our hearts can become the most beautiful and glorious in the light of His redeeming love.

There is a lovely Christmas legend that can inspire us to come to the feast of Christmas with a humble heart, empty of everything but our need for God. Among the shepherds who ran to see the Newborn King on Christmas night, there was one who was so poor that he had absolutely nothing to offer, and he felt very ashamed of himself. At the manger, everyone was vying to offer their gifts. Mary did not know how to receive them all since she was holding the Babe in her arms. Then, seeing the little shepherd with his hands free, she entrusted Jesus to him. Having empty hands was his good fortune, and it can be ours also.

We too can go to the manger in our littleness, poverty, and weakness and receive all of Him. May the infant Christ be born in your heart anew.

We pray that you and your family will have a blessed and Holy Christmas.