During his meeting with the delegations who donated the Nativity scene and Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis reflected on how to think about those pieces of art.
"I invite you, then, to pause before the Nativity scene, for there God's tenderness speaks to us. There we contemplate divine mercy, made flesh so that we gaze tenderly upon it.”
For the Catholic Church, Nativity scenes are not simple decorative objects. They contain a powerful message.
"Jesus did not simply appear on earth, and did not dedicate just a little of His time to us, but rather came to share our life and to receive our desires, as He wanted and still wants to live here, along with us and for us. Our world, which at Christmas became His world, is important to Him. The creche reminds us of this: God, in his great mercy, descended to us to stay with us.”
The Pope recalled that representations of the mystery of the Nativity are a proposition about the kind of life that Christians must lead.
"The Nativity also tells us that the Lord never imposes upon us with force. To save us, He did not change history by performing a grand miracle. Instead, He lived with simplicity, humility and meekness. God does not like the dramatic revolutions of the powerful of history, and does not use a magic wand to change situations. Instead He makes Himself small, He becomes a child, to attract us with love, to touch our hearts with His humble goodness, to draw attention through His poverty to those who worry about accumulating the false treasures of this world.”
Although it's normal to take down a Nativity scene after Christmas, the Vatican traditionally keeps the one in St. Peter's Square up until February 2nd. That day also marks the liturgical celebration of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It leaves plenty of time to meditate on this scene.