Christmas is an invitation to rejoice in the Good News – our Savior is born. Looking upon the infant Jesus lying in the manger, our hearts are touched with love and affection for the Lord who gave himself to us, sharing in our human lives so that we might share in his divine life.
Babies are so clearly lovable. Whenever a young mother brings her newborn baby to a family function or to the workplace, everyone always gathers around. Seeing the smiles on our faces, the mother then invariably asks, “Would you like to hold him?” This is always a moment of great joy for me and all those present. This is Mary’s invitation to each of us, “Would you like to hold my little Son?”
This is how we come to know the Lord – we have been invited to take Jesus into our arms, to embrace him so that we too might know the blessing of his love. Having been invited ourselves, we are impelled to go invite others.
“Before all else,” implores Pope Francis, “the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be obscured!” (Evangelii Gaudium, 39). This necessarily means taking the initiative, going to others and not merely waiting for them to come knock at the door asking to enter.
However, each person we encounter is different and so we must be willing to meet them where they are, in their own particular circumstances. But wherever they are in life, our invitation can help them take a step closer to the Lord. Some people might like to receive a “spiritual gift-certificate” inviting them to come to Mass or to pray with you. Asking someone to do some charitable service with you is another way to invite them to experience the true meaning of Christmas. In fact, in these commercialized times, when we can no longer take it for granted that people know that Christmas is about Christ, or who Jesus is, they might truly cherish your telling them the real story.
Two millennia ago in Bethlehem, heaven and earth met. On that first Christmas, God came among us in the person of Jesus Christ – Emmanuel, God with us. No event has so changed history and our lives as has the birth of the Son of Mary. Similarly, few invitations will be as fruitful as your opening your heart and sharing with others why the Lord means so much to you.
Whoever we encounter, whatever their predisposition, we can seek to be friends and invite them to pursue “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” as Saint Paul counseled (Philippians 4:8). Each of these is a step in the journey toward Christ.
In the love of Jesus, we find the perfect gift. It is a gift that is made even more joyous by giving it to others. By doing so, by inviting others to share in his love, we give the best gift we can to the newborn King.