Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Advent Reflection 6: Today the King of Kings is born in a poor crib in Bethlehem...

Here is my friend Padre Alex Diaz's beautiful Christmas reflection, translated from the Spanish version on his blog...

Every year we celebrate the feast of Christmas, a time of joy, rejoicing and brotherhood, but we can not rule out that for many it is just a commercial holiday where what matters are the expensive gifts and meals and the cacophony of empty dinners and feasts, which to some extent are meaningless.

Why do I say this? I say it because the only center and purpose of Christmas is Jesus who comes to meet us, to show us with His life the great meaning of being a child of God. A Christmas without Jesus is not Christmas. I have always been impressed by the surprising form in which God made his son human. I think we have never thought about it seriously. Imagine:

He was born in a cave with animals. Many call it a crib, but in fact it was not even that. It was a stable in a cave in an insignificant and poor town called Bethlehem, where there was no wine, no champagne, no table set with delicious foods, nor fine clothes and good music that day, only poor shepherds tending sheep that perhaps belonged to others, with lined faces and foul-smelling from the fatigue of the day's labor -- that is where He was born, of a simple, poor and humble woman, married to a craftsman who worked a thousand jobs to earn their bread, but with an iron faith. This is where the Child of the Creator was born, King of Kings, Truth incarnate. He was so poor that He did not choose to be born among the "haves", but among animals, and when He died, they buried Him in a borrowed grave.

He was born in a manger that night, and it was "because there was no room for them in the inn" (Lk 2:7), and also because He wanted to settle on the lowest rung of the human ladder. He did this so that nobody would feel excluded, not even the poorest person, and so that the way of salvation would be open to everyone. To all, as to the shepherds, He announced, "Today is born to you a Savior." That is why the great challenge of Christmas is to receive in faith the Christ Child who is born.

The Child lying in the poverty of a manger is the sign of God. The God who always acts simply. Centuries and millennia pass, but the sign remains, and also applies to us men and women of this century. It's a sign of hope for the whole human family: a sign of peace for all who suffer from all kinds of conflicts, violence and wars. A sign of mercy and compassion for the poor and oppressed. A sign of liberation through reconciliation for whoever is a slave to sin and for the immigrant living in exile and solitude. A sign of love and consolation for those who feel alone and abandoned. A small and fragile sign, humble and quiet, but filled with the strength of God who, out of love, became man.

Brothers and sisters, the Savior is born today: "Today is born the life which comes to destroy the fear of death and give us the hope of a blessed eternity" (St. Leo the Great). This Christmas our hope is renewed, because sin, death, disease, poverty, and suffering do not have the last word. The last word belongs to the Lord Jesus, the Reconciler, the only Savior of the World, yesterday, today and forever.

Therefore, "let no one feel excluded from this happiness, since the cause of this joy is common to all. Our Lord, triumphant indeed over sin and death, since He found no one blameless, thus came to save us ALL. Then let the just one rejoice, because his reward is coming; let the sinner be glad because forgiveness is offered him; let the pagan take heart because he is called to life."(St. Leo the Great)

At Christmas, we open ourselves to hope, contemplating the divine glory hidden in the poverty of a Child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying by His mother in a humble manger. To accept this paradox, the paradox of Christmas, is to discover the Truth that sets us free and the Love that fills and changes lives.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with blessings of the Lord.

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