Walk with Jesus on the way

The adoration of the shepherds is depicted in this 17th-century painting by Bartolome Esteban Murillo. The feast of the Nativity of Christ, a holy day of obligation, is celebrated Dec. 25. (CNS Photo by Bridgeman Images)

By Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz 

The first Christmas was full of movement. Recall that Joseph and Mary — to fulfill the requirements of the Roman census — had to journey to Bethlehem. It was there that Jesus Christ was born in a humble stable.

Journeys are central to the path of faith in salvation history. The bishops of the Second Vatican Council chose the image of “the people of God,” as they evoked the chosen people led by Moses in the desert for 40 years. Recently, Pope Francis invited us to join him on a two-year program to “Share the Journey,” asking that we walk with 65 + million refugees and immigrants — people forced by so many circumstances to be on the move.

Whom do we imitate and what guides us in our journey through life? Remember the Advent journey of the pregnant Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth as John the Baptist, the one who was precursor of Jesus, leapt in Elizabeth’s womb for joy as the women greeted one another. Recall that right after the birth of Jesus, the three wise men from the East journeyed to see the Christ child. The lesson is clear. We are on a journey of faith.

And what guides us so our paths might be straight?  The three wise men had a star that illumined the sky and pointed to the manger. What is our star? Our star is the Word of God and the mysteries of the Sacraments, cherished by the people of God we call the Church. The Word and Sacraments not only point us to Christ but illumine all of our lives. They are the light that makes sense of the ups and downs, the joys and trials of our lives. The Christian author C.S. Lewis said it so well: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

Our lives are not about aimlessly wandering through life in darkness. Rather Christmas proclaims that each person is on a journey in which Jesus, Son of God, comes to walk with us and actually is the star… the light that illumines our life.

And we walk in the light and with joy together. The theologian Henri DeLubac said that we are saved not simply one person at a time but together. As another said, “I want to
go to heaven but not alone. I want to go with you.” This lesson is clear: We approach the Christ child together.

The preparation of Advent and the Christmas gifts and celebrations are meant to slow us down on this journey, so that we may ponder and appreciate those steps we take in the light of Christ, as well as those with whom we journey together. So this Christmas, take this walk with your family and take time to “Share the Journey,” remembering those who are journeying far from home. Together, we all walk with Jesus on the way.

May you have a blessed Advent and Christmas season!

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