Each year children gather with their families in St. Peter’s Square for “Bambinelli Sunday.” The children bring with them figures of the Christ Child—the “Bambinelli”—from their family’s Nativity scene. During the noontime Angelus prayer, the pope blesses the children and the figurines they have brought. Please bring your Nativity scene or Baby Jesus from the scene next week. We will have the blessing of these after each Mass.
The blessing of the “Bambinelli” reminds us that the crib is a school of life where we can learn the secret of true joy. This does not consist in having many things but in feeling loved by the Lord, in giving oneself as a gift for others and in loving one another. Our Lady and St Joseph do not seem to be a very fortunate family; their first child was born in the midst of great hardship; yet they are full of deep joy, because they love each other, they help each other and, especially, they are certain that God, who made himself present in the little Jesus, is at work in their story. And the shepherds? What did they have to rejoice about? That Newborn Infant was not to change their condition of poverty and marginalization. But faith helped them recognize the “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” as a “sign” of the fulfillment of God’s promises for all human beings, “with whom he is pleased” (Lk 2:12, 14).
This is what true joy consists in: it is feeling that our personal and community existence has been visited and filled by a great mystery, the mystery of God’s love. In order to rejoice we do not need things alone, but love and truth: we need a close God who warms our hearts and responds to our deepest expectations. This God is manifested in Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary. Therefore that “Bambinello” which we place in a stable or a grotto is the center of all things, the heart of the world. Let us pray that every person, like the Virgin Mary, may accept as the center of his or her life the God who made himself a Child, the source of true joy.
Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Pray for us!