By Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M.
In the past few weeks we’ve been proclaiming Christmas songs, prayers and praises commemorating the birth of the King of Kings. The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, my community, celebrate Christmas with the tradition of the “Court of the King.” On Christmas day each Sister receives a card with one of the characters in the nativity scene. The card has a virtue of the character that we want to imitate and a prayer.
The first time I participated in this tradition, I recalled the elaborate nativity scenes that we used to build at homes and churches in Peru. Many churches, homes or institutions take great pride in recreating the little town of Bethlehem with wells, ponds, mountains, houses, sheep … you name it – it is a complex project. It is part of our Christmas tradition to admire the nativity scenes across the city. At home, my father still continues to build mountains and ponds around the holy family.
It is said that St. Francis of Assisi was the first one to recreate the nativity scene with the purpose to announce the Good News of Christ. Maybe this custom is not as well known in the United States. However, many of us still will make sure that at least we have the “mystery” – Mary, Joseph and Jesus – in some place of honor at home.
But what about the other characters of the court? Below I share some of the virtues that we are invited to imitate by some of the characters in the court of the King:
Like the stable may we be open to receive the King and be of service to the other, especially to the most abandoned.
Like the manger may we be able to offer ourselves as a place where Jesus may remain.
Like the angels may we be messengers of the Good News to all we meet.
Like the Magi may we study the Word of God.
Like the shepherds may we be open to listen and respond to the movement of the Spirit.
Like the star may we have the vision to see and manifest the spanine love to all who are seeking.
Like Bethlehem – the House of Bread – may we have a deeper love of the Eucharist.
Like the straw may we be support and strength to others.
Like the animals may we know how to respond to the needs of others.
May our lives give praise and glory to the King of Kings proclaiming the unconditional love of the God who became one of us.
Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M., is the director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization in Philadelphia.