Your upcoming Home Lesson on Mary, Mother of God includes a section on reading icons, and since this Nativity Icon intersects so nicely with both Christmas and that lesson, I wanted to offer this opportunity to give you a little more practice.
- One of the many traditions Christians celebrate for Christmas is the Icon of the Holy Nativity. For East and West, Catholic and Orthodox, the icon is a rich declaration of the true meaning of Christmas. The eternal Light (center top) proceeds from Heaven to the tomb-shaped manger.
- (Center) Animals are peacefully present, showing that creation yearns for the restoration of all things in Christ. Jesus is wrapped up in burial cloth, revealing that from the beginning He came to die on the Cross for our salvation.
- (Upper Corners) Angelic choirs watch over the Nativity, announcing the holy birth to the lonely shepherds. Romans, or Kings, are approaching because Jesus has come for the whole human race. But the harsh mountains remind us that the world is not at peace with God yet and our condition needs the salvation offered by the Son of God.
- (Center) Mary, the Theotokos, is large and central. She attends Jesus.
- (Lower Left) Most icons show Mary watching Joseph resisting the temptation of the evil one. Joseph is troubled about the origin of the child. She intercedes for those who are seeking to understand the person and natures of Jesus. (Lower Right) Women bathe the infant Jesus, who needs help and food and protection. He has become fully human without diminishing His divinity. He brings dignity to our earthly life and sanctifies the material universe. He has come to bring us new life and new hope in Himself.