My 8-year-old loves the move The Nativity from 2006. I highly recommend the DVD. We’ve watched this movie every night this week. How long have you heard the nativity story? For me, it’s been years. My children have been in Christmas pageants and we’ve re-enacting the story line through the years through scripture and dressing up. Somehow this year while watching the Nativity movie while snuggling up close, suffering was emphasized for me. Who wants to talk about suffering a few days before Christmas? Please! Can we not have a rest from bad news, sickness, tragedy?
Here was Mary and Joseph living a life of poverty and Roman rule. They woke up each morning completing tasks that would keep them alive, like working the fields, washing clothes, taking care of children. Upon occasion without warning, Roman soldiers would ride into their village of Nazareth and demand money for Caesar –taxes. If you did not have money they would take one of your children to work the debt off. You would never see your child again.
Have you ever thought about the fact that the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus within Mary’s womb which caused a huge emotional and spiritual outrage. She stood alone in her obedience. God was good to give Joseph a dream to confirm the miracle, and He stood by her. When the ordered census came, Mary and Joseph had to travel over a 100 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem on a donkey. They crossed through the desert, hills, all kinds of weather while she was pregnant. Upon reaching Bethlehem there was no hospital or home for her to deliver –only a cave with animals.
Stop and think–She was carrying GOD in flesh within her womb. JESUS. Why didn’t God see fit to have Jesus just appear – mighty in power, perfect, courageous, strong and taking over the world?! Why didn’t God place Jesus in the home of a King or a family of wealth so that He would have all the riches and access to health care? Why did God use a teenage girl who would have to struggle with public humiliation while following God’s plan? Why a cave? Why with animals, dirt, grime, unsanitary? Our babies today are born in the most protected, germ free environments, but not Jesus.
Perhaps suffering is a part of following God’s will. If we were to truly follow the plans of God and remove ourselves from our comfort–the things that in our mind bring us happiness, safety, and prosperity, would we suffer? Is suffering a bad thing? Mary was purposeful in the one thing God asked her to do–be the mother of Jesus. Nothing else mattered. If you want me to carry Him in my womb and I’ve been with no man, so be it. God if you want me to ride on a donkey, give birth in a cave, run to Egypt in the middle of the night for safety, so be it. God was good to bring confirmation in her journey through wise men, shepherds, a star, Anna in the temple, Joseph. Suffering and tragedy never left the story line of Jesus’ time on earth, yet what makes suffering bearable is His resurrection and conquering of death! One day we will be with Him face-to-face. Jesus said to us in His Word that He goes to prepare a place for us, and He will bring us to HIMSELF! We think of arriving in heaven, but stop and think of Him receiving you to Himself!
I pray this Christmas as we look around our world, our communities, our family, and within ourselves that we will see the Joy of His birth and the Hope it brings to our suffering. Jesus was born in the most lowest of places and is familiar with suffering. He is our Hope. Please take two minutes to see an excerpt from the movie The Nativity! It will bless you. Share with your children….
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It is so funny you posted this for after last Friday and the tragedy that was in Newtown, CT so close to Christmas I too was thinking about this. Then at mass on Sunday morning as we celebrated the 3rd Sunday of advent which the Church emphasizes the joy which should be in our hearts over all that the birth of our Savior means for us. The great joy of Christians is to see the day drawing nigh when the Lord will come again in His glory to lead them into His kingdom. Our pastor spoke to rejoice not in only the good things in life but also the difficult. For during these difficult times, that is when we look to Jesus more and need him more. He lifts us up on high for he experienced the struggles we have experienced and he and the father want only better for us as we want better for our children. We must indure/witness struggle and pain to overcome and triumph and be stronger as one. We are to go to the high father for our joy and sorrow and REJOICE. Hence my inspiration for my Christmas card, “REJOICE and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”. Matthew 5:12
I pray you all REJOICE during this Christmas Season and REJOICE during the new year. If you find yourself struggling on financial or emotional issues as so many of us do, remember to REJOICE. By rejoicing you will change for the good and so will others around you. My brothers and sisters, I pray you REJOICE in his name. AMEN!