The Tabernacle of Bethlehem

rome-515878_960_720On Christmas morning, I boarded the metro for St Peter’s Square with over a hundred of my Legionary brothers. The doors of the subway had barely closed when the brothers in the next car down from mine burst into song. It was Christmas carols, flash-mob style. We all joined in as the other passengers crowded round and took out their phones to film. It was our little Christmas morning gift to Rome: hundreds of young seminarians sharing our joy at the gift of the Newborn King. The next day we were out again, this time doing street missions in the Eternal City. We went to one of the most popular tourist sites in the city: Piazza Navona. We hit the plaza with everything we had. There was hot chocolate, cookies, and a cross to which people could nail their prayer intentions/Christmas wishes for Baby Jesus. On one side we had jazzy Spanish Christmas songs, complete with saxophone, bongos, tambourines, maracas, etc. I joined a group of brothers singing English and Italian carols further down the plaza. All the while we were taking advantage of the opportunities to speak to people about the joy of Christ and invite them to the nearby Church for a moment of prayer. We just wanted to share the joy of Emmanuel, God with us. “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? (Deut 4:7)” Christ came to us. We wanted to return the gift by bringing as many people as possible to him.

That’s what Baby Jesus wants for Christmas: to be with us. If he wanted to tell us something at Christmas, he would have, but he is silent. If he wanted to attract a crowd, he would have, but the stable is far from crowded. If he wanted to do something “practical” for us, he would have. But there is none of that. His silence whispers to us those words he spoke to Sr. Faustina Kowalska: “My little one, you are my delight; you are the refreshment of my heart.” In every image of the manger I have ever seen, Baby Jesus stretches out his empty little hands as if to say, “See, nothing in my hands. I’m not hiding anything. I’m not here to give you something else. I’m here to give you myself!” Just as in the Eucharist, all he wants is to be with us. We don’t need to say anything, do anything, or bring anything—just ourselves. That’s what he wants for and from us in the manger, that “Tabernacle of Bethlehem.” That is what we were trying to offer those people in the streets of Rome this Christmas. Christ wants to be with us. “[…] That where I am you may be also. (Jn 14:3)” Don’t look far off for what to give the newborn King. May we show our love for the Christ-child simply by receiving and returning this gift of self. Just be there. See how it makes him smile.


About Br Dain Scherber LC

Br Dain Scherber LC is a religious seminarian of the Legionaries of Christ. Born and raised on a dairy farm in central Minnesota, he attended the Legion’s high-school seminary in New Hampshire at the age of 13. He did his first two years of seminary in Dublin, Ireland before being transferred to Connecticut, where he continued his studies in the classical humanities for two years and worked as an assistant on the formation team for four years. He is currently studying philosophy at the Legion’s Center for Higher Studies in Rome.
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2 Responses to The Tabernacle of Bethlehem

  1. MaryLee says:

    Thank you for all your inspirational writings that keep my “eye on the prize” which is Our Lord, Jesus Christ! It is very easy to stray from what is important during the Christmas Season, which is all the more reason that I am grateful to all the Brothers and Priests for helping me to keep focused on the true meaning of this most beautiful time of year. Thank you for all your prayers, especially for Alison’s healing and for my family to return to the Church. You and all the Brothers and Priests are in my daily thoughts and prayers. I have every confidence that you will be a most treasured Priest when you have finished your formation. Perhaps I will come to your Ordination in Rome, since I was unable to come to Rome this year! With much love to you and all the Brothers from Cheshire that I miss so dearly!

  2. Mary Ann Thelen says:

    Thanks for the beautiful imagery of Christmas morning in Rome. Thank you for sharing your joy through song and physical pleasures of food and drink. May God bless all your efforts! You are gifts to all the world and we thank you for your selfless embodying of Christ on earth!

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