A Place For Jesus At Christmas

 
“Christmas is drawing near and the streets of the city are being decorated with lights. The world of wealth has lassoed Christmas and evicted Jesus!” These words of Chiara Lubich prompted a project by the children of the Focolare Movement, which has been held every year since 1996.

Christmas2017_01It no longer seems paradoxical to have to reinsert Jesus into Christmas. During this season, especially in affluent countries, consumerism and a certain sentimentalism blur or even exclude the centrality of Jesus. It wasn’t very different two thousand years ago: On their way to Bethlehem, they couldn’t find a place to stay. Mary and Joseph had to make do with a makeshift shelter where the Child could be born.

All over the world the Gen4 are saying:“They’ve evicted Jesus.” “At least in our homes, let’s celebrate as loud as we can the One who is born!” Chiara Lubich invited them to “let Jesus be born in their midst, through love.”
This led to the idea in 1996 of making small statues of the Baby Jesus and giving them away to people rushing by on the streets, perhaps mindless of the fact that Christmas was primarily a celebration of Jesus. “We tell the people: ‘Do you want to take Him home to your house?’ Some say no, some move on without even stopping. But others stop and we give them these small statues, or the mangers we made. In the squares of big cities, in the commercial centres, in the homes for the elderly – our booths draw people’s attention . . . or the parties we organize for children. It’s like a wave of happiness that overcomes everybody and places, Jesus, the One we’re really celebrating, at the centre of Christmas.”

Before trying to give Jesus to other people, the children try to know him better.
A two-day meeting for Gen4 was held recently in the Focolare town, in Tagaytay, Philippines. At the end everyone wrote a letter to Jesus. Sam wrote: “Jesus is my hero. Whenever I’m afraid, he protects me. When I’m good to other people, I’m like him.” Kenneth: “I pray to you that my family will not separate.” Gioia writes about having learned how to love everyone, “even my enemies, to be the first to love, sharing the joys and sorrows of others.” April: “Thank you for giving me parents and a good sister.” In many parts of the world they are challenging the cold, the problems and indifference with a disarming smile, candour and warmth that is typical of their age. The Gen4 present an unedited view onto Christmas, returning the attention to its real meaning.

In Central America Christmas the Gen4 from El Salvador the Dominican Republic celebrated with the Posadas that recall the difficulty Mary and Joseph had in finding a place to stay.

Eight-year-old Walter Francisco is an active member of the Gen4: “Offering our Jesus to all the people who came by us, was really very nice!”

Adriana and Juan Pablo are nine and six year old brothers. “First we went to a home for orphan children and share a meal with them. Then we went to give away our Baby Jesus, and the money that some people gave to us we gave to the poor.”
«Li abbiamo portati anche ai bambini che puliscono i vetri delle macchine ai semafori». The local Focolare community of Santa Tecla held a food and toy drive for the occasion.

More than forty children worked on making 270 statues of the Niñito, which they made with much love and care and offered to shoppers on the street, in several parishes and in a kindergarten: “Jesus can be born again today in everyone’s hearts,” they told us. The money donated, was sent to the children of Puerto Rico.

 

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