Friday, December 25, 2015

Living nativities

By Victor Codina (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Blog de CJ
December 25, 2015

In the Christmas liturgy we sing, "Today is born a Savior, the Messiah, the Lord," thus actualizing the message of the angels to the shepherds in Bethlehem (Luke 2:11). But where is the Savior being born today?

Certainly Jesus is present in the Church's Eucharistic celebration, but that doesn't exhaust the whole presence of the Lord. As the gospel on the last judgment (Matthew 25:31-46) warns us, Jesus is identified with the poor. They are the vicars of Christ, his living presence today.

Francis of Assisi reproduced the birth of Jesus in Greccio, putting the Child on a bit of hay, accompanied by an ox and an ass, as Giotto beautifully painted it. Since then, as Christmas draws near, nativities or mangers are put up in family homes and churches, with clay figures, green moss, cork mountains, silver stars, and colored lights...In some places, living nativities are organized with people representing Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus.

But all these nativities, as laudable as they are, recall and look to the past. So we can keep asking where Jesus is born today, because the Mystery of Christmas is always current, Christmas is always historicized, there is always a living Nativity today.

Certainly Jesus isn't born in the big stores where the orgy of consumption reigns during the year-end feasts, however much Christmas carols resound continually...

Jesus is born today, without a house or inn, on many parts of the Mediterranean shore, among the thousands of refugee children who come with their mothers to the coasts of Greece, Italy, and Spain, and who often die in the Mediterranean sea, which nowadays has become a true marine cemetery.

The social networks have spread the image of the Syrian-Kurdish boy Aylan, dead near the beach in Turkey. But there are thousands of children who are fleeing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan in search of a European country that will welcome them. In some countries, they're received with barbed wire fences. There's no room for them. They are illegal, nameless, undesirable, disposable.

Jesus is born among the African children who survive in the camps in South Sudan and among the Central African child soldiers recruited by terrorist groups. Jesus is born today amid the Central American children who are crossing Mexico to reach the United States and die along the way, who are murdered or deported. He is born among the indigenous children displaced from their ancestral lands by the insatiable oil operators. He is born among the street children who live under the bridges in the cities of Latin America and sometimes disappear in police social cleansing campaigns.

Fortunately, Jesus is also born in boys and girls welcomed by someone lovingly, in children adopted by families, in children who live in children's villages with substitute mothers. Jesus is born in homes where nuns care with great affection for special boys and girls who use wheelchairs but have names -- Juan de Dios, Marta, Zenaida...

Living nativities exist near all of us today too, though we don't hear rumors of angels...Only when we approach these living nativities, can we sing completely truthfully, "Today is born unto us a Savior, the Messiah, the Lord."

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