38. The pedagogy of Christmas

Following Luke’s Gospel passages we highlight some elements for a pedagogy of the heart appropriate to the mystery of Christmas. The mystery that we make our own in the faith about the incarnate Son of God, also hides a pedagogy conducive to live in depth the experience of Christmas, a human and at the same time religious experience . The Christmas mystery illuminates and supports an education of the heart, so that the same mystery would be that seed inside one’s heart bearing fruit.

Tullio Locatelli

If you want to deepen

38.The pedagogy of Christmas

(Tullio Locatelli)


o. The reading of Luke’s Gospel describing the facts related to the birth of Jesus, suggests a number of indications that we could interpret in pedagogical sense, that is, a number of suggestions for a path that will make us grow as humans and Christians.

1. First, we can highlight a series of contrasts that make the very lively scene in some respects almost a drama in which we are invited to enter.
1.1 Great history because it speaks of Caesar Augustus who orders a census and modest history because the protagonists are humble and unknown inhabitants of Palestine.
1.2 On the one hand important and powerful protagonists, feared by all, and, on the other hand, ordinary people immersed in their work at the edge of the city.
1.3 Furthermore: heaven and earth participate in it , the angels come from heaven and on earth we find the shepherds, as to merge two realities that seem distant and sometimes opposite to one another.
1.4 Again. Darkness is won by the light; silence is broken by the song. The day wins the night, and perhaps not only around people, but especially within them.

2. It is also very important to notice how St. Luke wants us to be participants in a fluctuation of feelings, which are a way for us to understand how people live the events from within.
2.1 There is fear and dismay at the new and at the unexpected.
2.2 There is joy and wonder for the words of the angels and for what the shepherds could ascertain in the cave of Bethlehem
2.3 There is the excitement of participating in something great, majestic.
2.4 Above all, the angels like the shepherds express sentiments of thanks and praise. These are the signs of those who have met the mystery, God made man.

3. One of the verbs used by Luke in this passage is “seeing”. The shepherds have seen the angels, the light, Jesus. Faith tells us that God made himself visible. He became man so that man could “see” Him. This is the first “lesson” in order to understand the pedagogy of Christmas: to be understood, to be seen, is necessary to take the measure of the other, of the recipient. It is not easy to be understood, because it is not easy to meet the other in his actual, current reality, made of situations and feelings.

4. What do the shepherds see? A child. The reality they see does not say it all: it hides and it reveals. Every reality, every phenomenon, has a face easy to discover, to see, to ascertain, and an inside one, an interior, veiled one, always to be discovered more and more. The child, I see with natural eyes, is the Son of God made flesh, as faith tells me. Each reality needs to be grasped in its wholeness: the fact and the meaning, what I see and what it means. The pedagogy is not limited in describing reality but it helps to understand it, to go from reality to evaluating it, to read it within.
As I tell a story, an experience, my own life … it becomes the sum of the facts and their meaning. We can not understand Christmas if we remain on the surface of what we simply see, but this is also required from our own reality of men and women who want to understand their existence.

5. Christmas becomes right if we meet. The meeting: Jesus came down, was born; the shepherds go to see him. When we build the manger we make many roads on which people walk, a path to travel along. It is the pedagogy of walking in order to meet; a road to go through. In this sense, the pedagogy of the encounter makes us all actors: each according to his characteristics. Let us not lose sight that there are different types of journey: the physical journey, the inner journey, and the journey as a process of going to …,I travel in order to go to a meeting … The real meeting then takes place between people, each bringing their history, desires and hopes.

6. The experience done turns to be a gift for him and for others. The shepherds after seeing Jesus feel the need to proclaim it: the personal experience becomes a gift for others, for everyone. A pedagogy that teaches to become witnesses, to transform into a gift what has been received. A pedagogy that teaches to ask: what can I tell what and how can I share what I lived, what I experienced, what I know … Receiving and giving are two sides of the same coin: it is the pedagogy of the gift received and shared.

7. It is not enough to do things, to live nice experiences, to learn and know more and more. We need to maintain them in the heart: the pedagogy of the “inner journey”, to retain in order to deepen, to make it our own so that it bears fruit in the hearts and minds, while taking roots and bringing forth good fruit. Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, we today have much to meditate, to internalize, to make the seed, sown in good soil, grow. It ‘a “peregrinatio fidei”, a journey of faith, it is a journey of human and Christian maturity. A pedagogy that helps people to stop and think, to safeguard, to look within.

8. To educate the heart: this could be the synthetic message of the pedagogy of Christmas. Because if the heart does not begin to beat in unison with Christmas, something is likely to be lost…

Tullio Locatelli

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