Child Campaign Reminds Shoppers of Jesus' Birth

Focolare Youth Underline Meaning of Christmas

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ROME, DEC. 21, 2010 ( As Christmas shoppers crowd the streets of Rome, children walk among them handing out Baby Jesus figurines to remind all of the reason for the season.

The children, who range from 4-12 years of age, are members of Gen 4, the youngest section of the Focolare Movement.

In this campaign — called «They Have Expelled Jesus!» — children in various countries aim to remind people that the celebration of Christmas is about Jesus’ birth.

The figurines that they hand out, cradled in beds of straw, were painted and assembled by the youth themselves. They wrapped the statues and attached some quotes of Chiara Lubich (1920-2008), founder of the Focolare Movement, for reflection.

They children also carry money boxes for collecting donations, which will this year be sent to aid missionaries who work with victims of natural disasters in Pakistan.

Chiara Chatel, a consecrated member of Focolare who accompanied the children on Saturday, told ZENIT, «We seek to remind people that Jesus came on earth to take us to Paradise.»

«We want to take advantage to collect offerings for the poorest of our movement,» she added.

The message

«We are in a hurry!» said one man when a group of children stopped him together with his fiancé as they exited a store. «Wait,» the fiancé said, «perhaps they must tell us something.»

The children told them: «We wish to remind you that the Baby Jesus is born and that this is the meaning of Christmas.» The engaged couple showed interest in the message, took the gift and made a free contribution.

The campaign initiative was based on a reflection by Lubich, who at one point stated: «Christmas is approaching and the streets of the city are covered with lights. An endless line of stores, endless, exorbitant wealth.»

However, Lubich reflected, no one thinks of Jesus. «There was no room for him at the inn, not even at Christmas.

Therese Marie Dessaivre, another member of the movement who accompanied the children, told ZENIT, «At the beginning the children were a bit timid,» but «then they made one another courageous,» and began talking to people.

A ten-year-old girl reported to ZENIT that some people pass at a distance, «but in them we also see the face of Jesus.»

[With the contribution of Carmen Elena Villa]
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