Questions to Ask in Contemplating the Nativity

Nativity scene on a church doorIgnatian contemplation allows the Spirit to bring to light important aspects of the Gospel that inform us along our spiritual journeys. This year, my contemplation on the Nativity—which I shared here—highlighted the following:

  • Amidst the hustle and bustle of the marketplace, no one saw Mary in labor with the Christ Child. Where have I missed the opportunity to respond to Christ among us?
  • Mary did not become upset when there were no rooms at the inns. She just trusted that, with God, everything would be ok. When things are difficult, do I look to Mary to learn from her grace-filled ways and profound trust in God?
  • Unlike the sanitized nativity scene we see on Christmas cards, the events of that night were far from perfect. Mary gave birth in a dusty, smelly stable. There was no bed, no clean linen, no birth plan, no anesthesia, no comforts at all. Yet, in this real and imperfect setting, God came to earth. Do I think that I need to be perfect or that my prayers need to be perfect or that my life needs to be perfect before I can concentrate on God and ask God to come into my life?
  • How often do I allow myself to “just breathe” in Jesus’ presence like Mary did after Jesus was born? How often do I allow myself to feel the peace and love that Jesus showers upon me when I rest in him?

This Christmas season, I invite you to take some time to sit prayerfully in Ignatian contemplation on Luke 2:1–7. What does the Spirit bring to light for you?

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Rebecca Ruiz
Rebecca Ruiz holds a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and an M.A. from Tufts University. She has been trained as an Ignatian spiritual director through Fairfield University. Rebecca is on staff at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and previously served for a decade and a half at the Diocese of Arlington in refugee resettlement. She strives, as St. Ignatius taught, to see God in all things and do “all things for the greater glory of God.”


  1. I think of the Nativity now as God identified with the lowly. Pope Francis mentions the lowly so often that it makes me think of the lowly around me. Certainly the homeless, those in sheltering, indiginous peoples, yes, and even those who pooh, pooh, the CDC guidelines, my managers at low-income senior housing.

  2. Rebecca
    Thanks for your thoughts. They prompt a person to think about what they really think.
    I often think of the details that are missing or just overlooked in the story.
    So often the case in the Gospel’s written by men.
    In the way I read this story I see the incredible effort of the inn keeper and his wife and children assisting Mary with all things and services they have available.
    They are the ‘hidden hands’ behind the scenes who instigate all the effort to make it as comfortable as possible for Mary, Joseph and the delivery of their baby.
    The Inn Keeper, and family also ran the birth process, the provision of the clothes and towels, and many of the never mentioned items associated with the birth of a child.
    Knowing the people in this Country, where Jesus is said to have been born, it is easy to assume such help was generously given.
    These people also are the ones not mentioned, who look after the never ending stream of visitors, and their accompanying animals, throughout the following days, and tell the visitors to wait, so Mary and Jesus can get some rest and do the ordinary things new Mums do, and new Dads too.
    Just a view that makes for a different but very possible view of what happened
    Why not?
    What do You think?

  3. The Nativity scene was far from perfect yet it was beautiful because the Christ child was born.
    I believe in our humanity we think our environment should be perfect to encounter holiness. This is such a reminder that we should look for God always; he knows our
    imperfections and wants us close to him just the way we are. We need him. Thank you for this inspiration! Lovely.

  4. And The Christ Child was wrapped in swaddle cloths…..Travelers, who traveled miles by foot generally carried swaddle cloths….tucked under the tie around their waist….Their use was generally for ..should someone die along the way that they could be wrapped properly… To me this is significant as The Child who came with nothing would, in 3 decades and 3 years, die for us and redeem us by taking all of our sins onto Himself.

  5. Trust in God and all will be well. Your contemplation reminds of the song “I won’t give up now, I don’t believe He’ll take me that far to leave me.” He keeps His promises


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