Christmas Eve Mass was like any other Mass, I guess, it was in Spanish, so I don’t know, but it had the same basic format, except for one thing.
After the priest gave us his blessing, and all the children were rubbing their eyes, and the girls had pulled out their pretty little bows (which I’m sure the mothers had spent a very long time trying to put in), everyone started lining up. I didn’t know what was going on, but I thought it must be pretty important because Padre was holding the baby Jesus that was going to be placed in the manger scene.
He lifted the porcelain statue high and low, left and right, this way and that way. People were kissing this small porcelain statue–some kissed its hand, some its belly, some its foot, some its forehead.
I completely flipped out. I did not completely see what was happening until it was almost my turn. I wanted to say, “What do I do?” The priest doesn’t speak English; the first time he gave me communion he kindly said, “Body of Christ” (what a way to welcome a temporary member of your flock).
Then, I suddenly knew what to do.
I took the statue slightly into my own hands and kissed its forehead and said, “Thank you.”
When I receive the Eucharist, the most important part of my life, I feel as though the priest is laying Jesus in the cradle of my hands.
We do not worship statues of course, but they remind us of how we feel about the things that are most important in our lives.
When the angels went away from them to heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
“Let us go, then, to Bethlehem
to see this thing that has taken place,
which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.