“Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Solemnity of the Nativity: December 25
He, of course, is the inspiration of every missioner, the one whom all saints try to imitate. Jesus, whose birth we celebrate each December 25, kicking off eight full days (“octave”), tells us, in the way that he came to be among us, about the character of true Christian mission. It is humble. It is empathetic. It goes to the peripheries, to the margins, to those whom society tends to overlook, or even to revile. Yet it is all inclusive, it “brings salvation to everyone,” as St. Paul told the Church in Rome. But Jesus has a special place in his heart for the poor.
At Christmas we see Jesus’ example of a missioner’s approach in the Nativity sets displayed in our homes. From the moment of his conception, Jesus preached in deed as much as in word. His very presence in Mary’s womb caused his cousin John, in Elizabeth’s womb, to leap for joy. A missioner’s presence should be a cause of joy, too.
Jesus’ coming to the world in the form of a helpless infant in a displaced family tells the story of how we are to carry forth the Good News. We share Jesus in a most effective way when we leave ourselves behind, when we reach out from our inner poverty.
That is the message of the Christ child each Christmas. To be on the mission of Christ, we need to empty ourselves, as St. Paul reminds us. For we know that, in the big picture, as St. John Paul II said, “this mission is still only beginning.”
Jesus, set us afire with a spirit of mission. Help us to see in the poverty of your birth a path toward how we are to live our lives. Empower us to see beyond our home and friends to the lives of those in need, near and far. Give us the inner strength to serve your mission “to the ends of the earth.”