Father Chris told us about an old custom (from Italy, I think) in which the children of a parish bring in their baby Jesus from their Nativity Scene, and the priest asks a blessing that the baby from the Nativity scene will help the child become more aware of the Jesus who died for us. Father Chris will be blessing these "bambinelli" tomorrow at Mass, but the blessing is already happening.
We got out our Nativity scenes and set them up today. We have 9 or 10 of them. I LOVE Nativity scenes, and some stay up all year! As Simon and Sylvia each set up their own Nativity, they started playing out the story, complete with appropriate musical interludes. They sang, and played, and cradled their Jesuses lovingly. It might just be a piece of molded plastic, but it made them think of the VERY REAL baby Jesus. That's how icons and statues work. We don't worship them. We allow them to remind us of the real thing, and call to mind the respect and reverence due to that one.
Of our Nativity scenes, only 6 of them have removable Jesuses. (Or is it Jesi? I'm not sure of the plural, so I'll go with Jesuses.) Some of them have the Jesus attached to his mother, Mary. There are monks and contemplatives who have spent their entire lives learning and praying about Jesus being so close to his mother, and vice versa. I am pretty much in full understanding of the love of a mom with a baby, whether he's Jesus, or some sweet kid God blessed ME with. So, anyway, right now I have a Ziploc baggie in my purse with the six Swager bambinellis.
It's very weird to see the Nativity sets with no Jesus. All these folks standing out in a stable just looking around. What's the point? Then it hit me. That is EXACTLY the point! He's the whole thing. Nothing else matters without the baby. Joseph, Mary, the kings, the shepherds...all of it...none of it means ANYTHING without Jesus. In fact, I think it's safe to carry that little ripple effect out even farther. My life is just as empty as a used feed box without Jesus in it. It means nothing without him being the middle of the whole thing!
He is my reason for living, caring, loving. Without him in the room, I have no air to breath. Without him being the Way I am completely lost. Without his love, I cease to exist. Without him becoming my food, I starve, and shrivel up and die.
That's a lot of pressure for a ceramic bambinelli. Good thing I'm not counting on the ceramic, but the one who created mankind from a handful of dirt and loving breath.