The Wonder of the Nativity
The Wonder of the Nativity
Bishop Larry J. Kulick remembers his first Nativity set, given to him by his grandparents just after he made his First Holy Communion. It served as the family Nativity, displayed under the Christmas tree in their Leechburg homestead for many years, and even today, can still be found under his own tree. In an interview with The Catholic Accent he encouraged all the faithful to display an in-home Nativity:
Tell us about the Wonder in Your Home.
At Christmas, we celebrate one of the fundamental tenets of our faith, and that is our belief that God became man, that the Word became flesh. The Nativity scene is a beautiful and symbolic sign of the mystery of the incarnation. It allows us to meditate on the meaning of God’s love for us.
How should families use it as a teaching tool?
The most important and central figure is Christ. In the manger scene, Christ is depicted as an infant; God reveals his love for us in the image of a child. Kneeling beside him is Mary, his mother and ours. And watching and guarding over Mary and Jesus is St. Joseph, the protector of the Holy Family. With the Holy Family in the center, all the other figures represent the breadth of human experience and God’s created order, coming together to adore the Christ child.
The shepherd and kings have important significance in the Nativity scene. The shepherds represent the people of Israel, the people of the Covenant, who came to Christ by faith. The Wise Men were the kings from the east, and they represent the gentile people, those who come to Christ by reason. In our beautiful Catholic tradition, we know that the revelation of Jesus comes to us through both faith and through reason.
When should the infant Jesus be placed into the crèche?
In many homes, the Christ child is not placed in the Nativity scene until after Christmas Eve Mass. In our family, the Christ child would be placed on straw in the middle of the table during Christmas Eve dinner, then placed into the crèche afterward.
I have inherited a number of Nativity scenes over the years which I display, and I keep all the Jesus figurines in a drawer until Christmas Eve. I have to admit that lately, the drawer has become a closet. I think I’m up to 16 images of Christ! So I started a custom that after midnight Mass, I go around and place the infant in each scene. In whatever ways you utilize your Nativity scene, allow it to be a central part of your Christmas celebration.
Bishop Kulick will be sharing his reflections on each character in the Nativity scene on his Facebook page this Christmas season. Follow him at @BishopLarryKulick for more insight into the Christmas crèche.