The Nativity story teaches us to reflect not only on the birth of Jesus, but its universal message of peace and goodwill.
The story begins with a census. All citizens, by order of Caesar Augustus, went to be registered in their place of family origin. Mary and Joseph travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem because of the census. Jesus was born in a cave stable set aside for shepherds’ flocks in time of storm. In a place of abandonment, Jesus was laid in a manger on this particular night, since there was no room for them at the inn. The story goes on to reveal that on this night, shepherds guarded their sheep in the fields and angels appeared to announce the birth of the new born king. Later on, perhaps weeks after, wise men appeared bearing gifts fit for a king. Finally, the young family fled into Egypt because King Herod sought the child to kill him after being informed of the birth.
At the heart of this story, as it unfolds in the cave stable, is the birth of a higher expression of love that had not been expressed up unto that point in time. That love brought to fulfillment in Jesus manifested itself as selfless love.
The message of Christmas remains as before, peace, love, and goodwill to all. This message of peace and love is timely for all ages and seasons. Without peace, there cannot be goodwill or love. Likewise, without love, there cannot be abiding peace. That love mentioned in the Bible is defined as loving your neighbor as well as yourself. This type of love is called compassionate love. Without this kind of love, there can be no harmony or peace that passes all understanding.
It is for this reason, that the Christmas spirit of harmony, love, and goodwill should be celebrated all year long. As the Nativity story is told and families gather to hear the story, the message proclaimed by the angels is relived. When the Christmas spirit is shared with one other person, one more light is lit in a dark world. As each person shares the Christmas spirit of goodwill, the light is spread and true peace prevails.