Last Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father invited families to come to the Square for the Blessing of the Bambinelli, the Christ Child figure to be placed in home Nativity sets. In Italy, the Christ Child is a figure larger than all the characters that comprise a family’s Nativity presentation and actually Italian presentations of the Nativity are larger and grander than anything that you would see in most homes in the States. So on Sunday, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, blessed the Bambinelli, large and small, to the delight of all present.
Our focus this season is on the Bambino, the Christ Child and, while Pope Francis made that clear on Sunday, he actually makes it clear each and every time he speaks. Christ is the center of our lives as Christians, as the Baptized. Christmas is an opportunity to focus on the core of who we are and that is, followers of Jesus Christ.
The birth of a baby is a source of great joy for a family. Any family that has been recently gifted with this special moment can identify clearly with what it is we celebrate tonight, the birth of a child. All of us know the joy that a new baby brings to a family. It is this same excitement and joy that we are encouraged to bring with us throughout this season.
Newborns are a blessing and a delight and, without a doubt, they deserve all of our attention. When a child is born all we want to do is look, see and be amazed at the miracle of birth and this new addition to our family. Now more than ever the pictures begin and, because of technology, they travel pretty quickly around the world. These little people entertain family and friends with their smiles and coos. Nothing pleases us more than to be admiring this newborn. The celebrations go on forever: the child’s first week, the first month, the child’s first of all the holidays, followed by the first steps, the first words, the greatest smiles.
During this season, we are invited to once again focus our attention upon the manger and the child who makes it a bed and to be as fascinated and happy as Mary and Joseph and all the others crowded into that stable smiling and happy at the birth of this child, the Christ Child.
Each Christmas, the Bambino is born again and once again the Saving mystery continues to accomplish our redemption. Again this year we are given another opportunity to understand, to pray, and to reflect on this child and the gifts he brings to each of us.
The music and messages speak of this birth as a moment of great joy and a reason to stop and glorify God. He has given us his Son and from his Son we feel the touch, the love, the care of God himself. The child brings God into our midst and calls us to live as people who through Baptism are also children of God. God is with us.
God has blessed us with Pope Francis. His Holiness is simply doing and saying the things that this child has taught us to say and do. We are listening to those words and values anew.
Any child is worthy of all of our attention. This Child absolutely is.
May we open our hearts and our ears this evening in new ways to hear the word of God again so that every day might be a day that we and others experience God’s love. Tonight we celebrate because God is with us.
Prayer of Blessing for the Bambinelli
God, our Father
You so loved humankind
That you sent us your only Son Jesus,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
To save and lead us back to you.