Year A – The Nativity of the Lord

On the Baby Asleep on the Hay

(Isa.62:1-5; Acts 13:16-17, 22-25; Mt.1:18-25)

Merry Christmas!  Today we celebrate God’s remarkable gift to each one of us.  That gift is Jesus, and he’s being offered to us right now as a baby asleep on the hay. 

This gift is like no other.  Why?  It’s because Jesus is the Prince of Peace who shows us how to live a life of meaning and love.  And he’s the Light of the World who promises us eternal life.  No other present even comes close!

Through the ages, millions of people have accepted this marvellous gift of Jesus and found their lives transformed.  And they have happily shared his story with their family and friends.

But the world has changed, and in many places today you have to look hard to find any reminder of the real Christmas. Sure, there are lots of Santas and Christmas trees and decorations around.  But in many homes and communities now, there’s no mention of Jesus or the Holy Family at all.

It’s sad, because many people have forgotten what Christmas actually means.

Today, I have a story for you, written by Jo Fiore, one of our wonderful parishioners.  It’s about a young boy who lines up for a photo with Santa Claus.  And while he waits with his mother, he sees a beautiful picture in a shop window.

As they waited in line for a photo, and the last minute shoppers rushed by,
A picture displayed in a window attracted the little one’s eye. And he called to his mother, ‘Mum, come look and see! There’s a baby asleep on some hay!
There’s a lady, a man, some shepherds and sheep, and three kings with gifts on the way!’

And the questions poured out, ‘Mum, who is this baby, and do you know his sweet name?
And when was He born, and where did He live, and does anyone know why He came?’
The child’s mother paused, remembering a time when the questions she’d asked were the same.
Her own mother’s words gently came to her mind, and memories lit up like a flame.

‘The name of the baby is Jesus; He came to save people on earth.
He was born in a stable in Bethlehem and at Christmas we honour His birth.
That’s Mary and Joseph right there at His side. See the shepherds bow down to adore.
The Magi bring gifts only fit for a king, and the angels sing ‘Peace evermore.’

He came to show how God loves us, and to teach us the way we should live.
To be kind to all others and if we are hurt, how we should quickly forgive.
The little one looked at his mother, and he noticed a tear in her eye.
‘You’ve never told me that story before, Mum. It makes me feel happy. Don’t cry!’

They lined up again to see Santa, who greeted them both with a smile.
‘And what would you like for Christmas, young man?’ The little one thought for a while.
‘Well, I don’t need any more presents, and I don’t need any more toys,
But I’d like you to pass on a message, to all of the world’s girls and boys.

Can you tell them that in that far corner, there’s something the whole world should see?
And maybe if they paid a visit, they too can be happy, like me!
Can they each ask their mother and father, to tell them the story today,
The story my mother just told me, about Jesus asleep on the hay.

This year, let’s teach our children the real story of the first Christmas, for this is our story, too! 

And let’s make sure they understand all the signs and symbols that are around us at this time of year:

The Christmas Tree, the Star, the Wreath and Candles, the Bells, the Angels, the Shepherds and their Sheep, the Wise Men with their Gifts, Mary and Joseph, and the Baby Asleep on the Hay.

They all mean something very special.

Especially the Baby Asleep on the Hay!

Merry Christmas!