“Christmas is drawing near and the streets are covered in light. . .” These are the opening words of Chiara Lubich’s message “They have dislodged Jesus!”“, describing a day near Christmas as she drove through the streets of a large fashionable city. She was so struck by the exterior scene that grabbed her attention at every corner: “A never-ending row of shops, an endless but exorbitant wealth.” Struck by the gentle and gracious Christmas atmosphere, Chiara was equally stunned by the total absence of its deeper true meaning: “The disbelief that overcame my heart nearly turned to rebellion” she writes. “This rich and exorbitant world has lassoed Christmas and everything surrounding it and forced Jesus out! It loves the poetry, the atmosphere; the friendship it brings; the gifts it suggests, the lights, stars and songs. It focuses on Christmas for the best sales of the year. But for Jesus: not even a thought.
‘He came among his own, but his own did not receive him. . .’ ‘There was no place for him at the inn. . .’ not even at Christmas. Last night I couldn’t sleep. This thought kept we awake the whole night.” Chiara confided that she would have liked to do something that would highlight and convey Christmas’s great mystery of love. “That at least in our homes,” she hoped “we would cry out the One who was born, celebrating Him as He had never been celebrated before.”
For several years now the children who live the spirituality of unity have been taking on Chiara’s dream, bringing Baby Jesus back to the centre of Christmas. They do it with songs, small hand-made painted statues and Nativity scenes; also collecting offerings for the suffering and poverty of other children. This year they will support their peers in Philippines and Syria.
Anyone wishing to join in can download a poster illustrating the Baby Jesus Project at: gen4.focolare.org