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What if we prepared our hearts for Christmas not just by listening to or reading the Gospel, but by really entering into the story? Would God's story become ours?

Christmas isn't just for children; it's for all of us. Baptism reminds us that even adults must recall their status as Children of God, allowing blood-flow between mind and heart, without harshly rationalizing everything. Prayer and meditation help soften the lines we inadvertently draw between real faith and real life. Entering God's Word can renew and restore the proper balance.

Put yourself into the story. It's a real spiritual exercise: a form of meditation that disallows just passively listening to the message, but actively receives it.

Imagination stirs us to become a character in the story's action, or to be ourselves as bystanders or witnesses of the events. That kind of identification draws us deeper into "the Greatest Story Ever Told," letting it take root. We make personal connections when we ponder what catches our attention. The longer you meditate on a scenario in Scripture, the more you relax with the details, and the more vivid the experience. And while your mind is engaged this way, the Spirit of God may whisper to your heart as well.

Read the infancy narratives in chapters 1 and 2 in the Gospels of Matthew or Luke. You can work with just a few paragraphs, or the Gospels at Mass.

See, smell, touch, hear, and taste. Talk to the people you are reading about.

Putting myself into the story helps me to "get it." I acknowledge the truth of my situation, the need for more of God in my life and less of everything else.

I discover that the supernatural takes place within the realm of my natural world. That's what makes Christmas so utterly amazing. My eyes see and my heart detects God becoming part of the human family, and I find him in my own experiences.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem . . . with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered (Lk. 2:4-6).

I sense my Advent days urgently yielding to Christmas like the throes of a woman in labor, the contractions bring the final push. Ready or not, the Day is upon us. And there is a burst of joy in the birth of a baby, and a delightful fatigue settles in.

And she gave birth to her first-born son (Lk. 2:7).

I get it when a Momma blissfully holds her Baby Boy close, feeling the nourishment leave her body. And in the next moment he pulls away to flash a milky, toothless, grin.

. . . And laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Lk. 2:7).

I breathe it in when I walk past the working farms nearby. The rich scent of the livestock and the fields remind me of the first impressions of the earth taken in by the baby Jesus.

Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people . . . (Lk. 2:10).