APOSTOLIC LETTER OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON THE MEANING AND IMPORTANCE OF THE NATIVITY SCENE
GRADUALLY, we come to the cave, where we find the figures of Mary and Joseph. Mary is a mother who contemplates her child and shows him to every visitor. The figure of Mary makes us reflect on the great mystery that surrounded this young woman when God knocked on the door of her immaculate heart…. At Mary’s side, shown protecting the Child and his Mother, stands Saint Joseph… the guardian who tirelessly protects his family, … as a just man, he entrusted himself always to God’s will, and put it into practice.
When, at Christmas, we place the statue of the Infant Jesus in the manger, the nativity scene suddenly comes alive. God appears as a child, for us to take into our arms. Beneath weakness and frailty, he conceals his power that creates and transforms all things…. “Life was made manifest” (1 Jn 1:2)…. The crèche allows us to see and touch this unique and unparalleled event that changed the course of history.
The nativity scene shows God as he came into our world, but it also makes us reflect on how our life is part of God’s own life. It invites us to become his disciples if we want to attain ultimate meaning in life.
As the feast of Epiphany approaches, we place the statues of the Three Kings in the Christmas crèche…. As we contemplate this aspect of the nativity scene, we are called to reflect on the responsibility of every Christian to spread the Gospel, … to bear glad tidings to all, testifying by our practical works of mercy to the joy of knowing Jesus and his love. The Magi teach us that people can come to Christ by a very long route.
It does not matter how the nativity scene is arranged: it can always be the same or it can change from year to year. What matters is that it speaks to our lives. Wherever it is, and whatever form it takes, the Christmas crèche speaks to us of the love of God, the God who became a child in order to make us know how close he is to every man, woman and child, regardless of their condition.