The Third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity

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Br. Matthew Wanner, O.P. describes the beauty, peace, and intimacy which the Lord shares with Mary and Joseph, He desires to share also with us.

“Who has performed and done this,
calling the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord, the first,
and with the last; I am He.” (Isaiah 41:4)

Secrets are attractive, especially deep and life-changing ones. When we hear that a mystery is going to be revealed, we immediately perk up our ears and pay close attention. As with receiving precious gifts, we never grow weary of hearing meaningful secrets. This is particularly evident to us as we meditate on the birth of Christ since Christmas presents a secret that discloses a gift – the most precious gift ever given. Since the secret of Christmas arrives every year, the challenge of perking up our ears and enlisting our full attention continually returns. One key is to never lose sight of the depth and relevance of this secret, which bears an immediate impact on our lives even though it is so difficult to understand. What is the meaning of this secret, and what is the gift that it unveils?

The living Son of God – the treasury of all wisdom and knowledge – has emerged in human history as a poor infant. This is a secret so difficult to understand that its significance risks being lost. Christ’s appearance as an infant at the center of a loving family remains universally attractive yet perennially difficult to grasp. This unique infant is the tree of life and the gate of the Father for all humanity. He has arrived to plant the banner of life in the barren soil of our world in such a way that all may find a remedy to their deepest sorrows and insecurities. The beachhead of sinful human history has been breached the conquering Lord, and the antidote to death has assumed a beating heart. This secret is living and attractive; all the more so because He is also the Father’s greatest gift to us.

God was not satisfied with simply communicating His promises through other human persons or through written sacred texts. He gives us His own son, Jesus, as a gift that opens a new category of communication with Himself. Even as a sleeping babe snugly wrapped in swaddling clothes, Jesus attracts us to the Father. The beauty, peace, and intimacy which He shares with Mary and Joseph He desires to share also with us. As an acorn silently unfolds into a giant oak, the infant Jesus remained hidden and patiently awaited the full flowering of His life’s mission.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)

Let us never grow tired of seeking the divine and personal treasury hidden in Jesus. This is the Christmas secret; this is the cause for rejoicing that stirred the angels to awaken shepherds and to motivate kings. The arrival of God’s victory in the divine person of Jesus was the great gift that the Father poured out for us. This gift ripples through the centuries and still remains active and open to us with each step we take. Yes, this is the secret of Christmas, a gift that cannot be overestimated in its worth for our present journey through the blustery roads of life. Let us keep searching to uncover the riches of this gift as they radiate ever onward through time and space.

-Br. Matthew Wanner, O.P.

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