Posted by: wordofthevine | December 6, 2017

How can Jesus be born in our hearts this Christmas?

Being prepared for Christmas is much more than buying a tree and gifts! While Our Lord wants us to prepare, to prepare our hearts so the outward tasks of the season will be ways we love others, He wants something more. Jesus wants to be born in our hearts this Christmas, for this is our real human destiny: to be alive with Jesus from within!

Venerable Luis Martinez (1881-1956), the late Archbishop of Mexico City, and talented spiritual director, breaks open this mystery for us by saying, “We not only remember that night in Bethlehem, but moreover, we recognize that this mystery is truly happening in each well-prepared soul through the grace of the Holy Spirit.”  He seeks not only to be “born in the hearts of saints, but also in imperfect souls; where nothing will hinder Jesus from being born in them as long as they do what they can to purify themselves.” His admonition to us is for our hearts to become mangers for Jesus.

Mangers are in stables or rather little caves, which are usually cold, damp places that most people overlook unless they are shepherds or farmers. Where Jesus was born, Martinez described was “not the Bethlehem depicted on prayer cards, surrounded by doves and angels with everything neatly and artistically arranged. Rather it was a shelter for animals, a very common place. He was born in a very poor, very humble, smelly and dirty place. He, therefore, will not mind being born in our poor hearts.” Like seeds that sprout in the dirt, human life and growth can be messy for it happens down in the earth of our everyday life.

Now, what do mangers and hearts have in common? They both need cleaning up. Mangers need to be empty so they can hold what the animals need. Mangers attract. Animals approach a manger to eat, while a farmer/shepherd does too to drop the sweet hay and grain there. Our hearts need to be empty of self-preoccupation to become quieted by an awareness of our own shortcomings. We have to smell the native aroma of our hearts so we reach towards heaven for our fullness as we live, which is in God and not ourselves.

While we must try as hard as we can to tidy up, what hope do we have to have hearts clean enough to receive the King of Kings on our own efforts? Martinez encourages us “not to worry for, stables may be tided to a certain point, but they cannot be changed into marble palaces.”

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