This year, I’ve been reflecting on how the birth of Jesus reveals the ongoing Christian spiritual mystery of our own lives.
We all have our “Annunciation” where we are invited to accept Jesus more deeply into our lives. It could come through a friend, spouse, inspiring talk, retreat, prayer, a profound experience of a Sacrament, or some inner call or realization that something needs to change.
We each have a “Visitation” where we find a companion in Christ to share our struggles and joys with, like Mary and Elizabeth. It might be a family member or friend God gives us to share the journey with. We learn that we never face God’s journey alone.
We come face to face with our need to trust the larger plan of God like Joseph, and “flex” our plan to His plan, when God moves in unexpected ways.
As with Mary and Joseph, we endure the waiting for our own God-given miracle… love, births, healings, a realized vocation, or whatever our heart longs for.
And we uncover God’s mysteries as we wander to our own “Bethlehem,” with fear, obstacles, anticipation, and uncertainty.
Along the journey, we encounter shut doors like “no room at the inn,” open doors like the empty manger, and those moments where we just wonder what God is doing because it wasn’t what we expected.
Like Mary, we carry the Lord in our own being for a time, spiritually growing and nurturing that gift inside of us.
When He’s born into our lives in the quiet stable of our hearts, we’re in awe of this beautiful gift, marvel at its beauty and wonder, and feel so blessed to receive it.
But eventually God asks us to move beyond ourselves. He asks us to share Jesus with the world with our unique gifts and talents.
Then once we do, we receive unexpected insights, visitors, and gifts along the way from our own “shepherds” and “wise men.”
And in doing so, we find joy and peace, and give that ultimate gift to others. No store-bought Christmas gift can compare to a truly happy and peaceful heart.
We come to realize that real joy and peace doesn’t lie in our lives going exactly how we planned that they would or having everything the world says we should have. Those are passing joys.
Lasting joy and peace only comes from receiving Jesus into our lives, sharing him with others, and being open to all the gifts that follow.
May you see your own spiritual journey through the lens of the Holy Family this Christmas.