At Christmas, we put a beautiful Nativity scene on the steps leading up to the altar. It is surrounded by plants and flowers. I notice it often and appreciate the beauty, but then I glance upwards and see Jesus on the crucifix, hanging above the altar. It strikes me every time I look at it. The juxtaposition of life and death with the altar and Tabernacle between the two images.
It reminds me that as Christians we are called to the same images in our own lives. We are born, and then we move forward and lay our life down for the sake of others. In family, marriage, priest, sister, in whatever vocation we have we are called to serve as Jesus did. The steps are the journey, the altar our sacrifice, the Tabernacle what we leave behind and the cross is our death. In the spiritual life, this is repeated over and over as we are drawn into a deeper conversion towards Christ.
It is also a reminder that there is no Cross without Life, and no Life without the Cross!