Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Prepare A Place To Receive The True Gift

By BISHOP LUIS R. ZARAMA, Commentary | Published December 23, 2010  | En Español

The angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.”

One of my childhood traditions is to decorate the Nativity scene. It is something of great importance to me, and I say that it gives me the opportunity to use my one and only artistic talent. Even though I have never had a clear idea how to do so, I am always happy when I finish the project. Once it has been completed, I enjoy sitting down and meditating on it. The more I contemplate it, the more beautiful I find it. What calls my attention to the figurines is the way that most of the shepherds seem to be looking for something. What do they seek? Then, everything makes sense when, on Christmas Eve, I place St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary in the stable, with every figurine facing towards it.

During this time of Advent, the Church invites us to prepare to receive the same Good News that the shepherds received from the angels: “Today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.”

This preparation needs to bring us to live that moment when God becomes man, the moment when that empty place, a place that nobody paid attention to, now becomes the center of attention because it is the dwelling of the Child Jesus.

For me, making the Nativity scene is not that simple; it takes time to gather materials such as sand, pebbles, the right paper, lights, the shepherds and other elements needed to make it beautiful. It usually takes me at least half a day until I am satisfied with it.

In the same way, we should prepare our hearts so that that we can hear the Good News of the angels and build a home for that guest who is Jesus and for His love this Christmas. This preparation process takes time because it invites us to clean and decorate our hearts to be able to receive Him. That way, He can make a difference in our lives.

Even though the shepherds were busy with their daily routine watching over their sheep, they were able to hear and respond to the invitation from the angels. In the same way, we have to make space in our daily routine to hear the invitation and make that journey to celebrate the mystery which is revealed to us: God is made Man.

The joy of this mystery is the best gift that we can offer our families, friends and coworkers, and that we can share in our parishes.

On many occasions we can spend a lot of time shopping, looking for gifts. I would like to ask you how much time do we spend preparing ourselves to receive the gift of God becoming man? The decorations of our homes, the exchange of gifts should reflect our hearts’ decoration with the presence of the Lord.

The angels announce the Good News. Let’s prepare ourselves so that there will be space in our hearts to say: Merry Christmas! And may He bless us throughout the New Year through His presence in our hearts.