Monday, 19 December 2016


The Crib sums up the wonder of Christmas.    The scene is set in a stable.  There we see figures representing what happened some 2000 years ago.    There’s a recently born babe in a manger, His young mother, her husband, who is an older man, and some shepherds. Sad to say, many a baby is born in much poorer circumstances.  And yet each one is welcomed as a source of wonder and, hopefully, of joy.

Jesus is just as human as the rest of us. But the posture of the adults around the baby tells us they realize He’s no ordinary child.   He, born at Bethlehem, was also the Son of God.  This child shared our human vulnerability. He was Almighty God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.  As one of us He was held lovingly in His mother’s arms. As one of us He was brutally nailed to a cross. He, who has existed from all eternity, was born in time.

Simply because He loves us Almighty God has joined the human race and shared our human life, so that we people could share His divine life and happiness.  The Son of God has lived among us so that He could save us from the destructive power of sin and death. God could not have paid us, His People, a greater compliment! To God not one of us is worthless or utterly hopeless. God is convinced that He can save all of us from the power of evil.   It was vitally important to God that the salvation of mankind should come from within the human family.  The figures in the crib are designed  to help us appreciate the wonder of Christmas -the babe born at Bethlehem is the Son of God.  Mary sits looking lovingly at her baby, with her head reverently bowed.   The shepherds kneel in adoration of the baby Jesus.  They have faith to believe that He is indeed the Son of God and Saviour of the World.

 In the present picture of the Nativity Joseph has removed his sandals  -not because his feet were sore and tired.  Most surely the artist was pointing to a much more profound truth. Joseph removed his sandals out of reverence. He realised he was in the presence of the All Holy One.   The artist had in mind what Moses did when, from the burning bush, God revealed Himself as Saviour of His people.  Joseph, gazing at Jesus, realised that he was in the presence of God who had become man to save us through the forgiveness of our sins!  That's foreshadowed in the present picture of the burning bush.

The celebration of the birth of Jesus has to be the centre of our joy.  Imagine how you would feel on your birthday if your  family and friends were to ignore you as they went about having a great time! Isn’t it true  that Christmas has become so commercialised that we’re told that it wouldn’t be Christmas without certain luxury goods.  You know, dazzling Christmas lights can blind people to the true Light of the World, born in a stable at Bethlehem.

What does this say about the many thousands of people who won’t have the basic necessities for a decent life –the homeless, starving exiles, beggars sleeping on the streets in own land, those in prison and those separated from their families? Ask them if  the absence of   tinselled merriment makes Christmas empty and meaningless for them?   It even happens that having nothing else they are the ones who have the better chance of appreciating the greatest of all Christmas presents -the gift of God Himself.

In the spirit of the Year of Mercy,wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were to open our hearts and wallets to those who are in desperate need?

Peter and Isidore  wish you a very happy and holy celebration of the Birthday of our Saviour.

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