Tuesday, December 25, 2012

All in the family: claiming Jesus as one of our own

“The Christian religion asks us to put our trust not in ideas, and certainly not in ideologies, but in a God Who was vulnerable enough to become human and die, and Who desires to be present to us in our ordinary circumstances.” ~ Kathleen Norris

Images of the Virgin Mary throughout the world often reflect the physical characteristics of a certain race, ethnicity or culture. Much in the same way, I love the way that nativity sets from various regions or countries take on the physical attributes, clothing, and style of specific groups of people.

By giving the holy family our personal ethnicity, we claim them as one of our own, make them a part of our family. And in a very real way, we bring to life the mystery and wonder of the word ''Incarnation.”

As I wrote in an earlier post, my Cuban grandfather Alipio understood this truth as he built el nacimiento each year with a particular Caribbean flavor!

Our family's first nativity set was a generous gift from Michael's parents for our first Christmas. Not long after, one of our close friends in San Antonio, a Marianist priest who led a yearly archeological study tour to Israel, brought us back an olive wood nativity from Bethlehem. 

Over the past couple of decades, I have enjoyed collecting nativity sets from countries that we’ve traveled to, and thanks to Ten Thousand Villages, a few from countries I may never visit—like Bangladesh and Nepal.

As I set each nativity around our house for Christmas, I am reminded of our small “c” catholic (universal) Catholic faith.  We are, indeed, one in Him—the “infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger,” our Savior, Christ the Lord.

This reality is often difficult to conceive (pardon the pun). In God’s infinite love for each of us, for me, the Creator of life became a seven pound human bqby, one like us, in every way but sin. 

We have much reason to rejoice and celebrate!

This will be my final written blog post for 2012. But for the next week, I will post pictures from around our home of some of my favorite nativity sets, including what country they are from.
Thank you for walking “Day by Day” with me! 
May peace reign in your homes this Christmas season, and may Jesus be born again in your heart.