||Far into the night, at the coldest time of the year, in
a chilly grotto, more suitable for a flock of beasts than for humans, the
promised Messiah – Jesus – the savior of mankind, comes into the world in the
fullness of time.
There are none who clamor around him: only an ox and an ass lending
their warmth to the newborn infant; with a humble woman, and a poor and tired
man, in adoration beside him. |
Nothing can be heard except the sobs and whimpers of the infant God.
And by means of his crying and weeping he offers to the Divine justice the first
ransom for our redemption.
He had been expected for forty centuries; with longing sighs the
ancient Fathers had implored his arrival. The sacred scriptures clearly prophesy
the time and the place of his birth, and yet the world is silent and no one
seems aware of the great event. Only some shepherds, who had been busy watching
over their sheep in the meadows, come to visit him. Heavenly visitors had
alerted them to the wondrous event, inviting them to approach his cave.
So plentiful, O Christians, are the lessons that shine forth from the
grotto of Bethlehem! Oh how our hearts should be on fire with love for the one
who with such tenderness was made flesh for our sakes! Oh how we should burn
with desire to lead the whole world to this lowly cave, refuge of the King of
kings, greater than any worldly palace, because it is the throne and dwelling
place of God! Let us ask this Divine child to clothe us with humility, because
only by means of this virtue can we taste the fullness of this mystery of Divine
Glittering were the palaces of the proud Hebrews. Yet, the light of
the world did not appear in one of them. Ostentatious with worldly grandeur,
swimming in gold and in delights, were the great ones of the Hebrew nation;
filled with vain knowledge and pride were the priests of the sanctuary. In
opposition to the true meaning of Divine revelation, they awaited an officious
savoir, who would come into the world with human renown and power.
But God, always ready to confound the wisdom of the world, shatters
their plans. Contrary to the expectations of those lacking in Divine wisdom, he
appears among us in the greatest abjection, renouncing even birth in St.
Joseph’s humble home, denying himself a modest abode among relatives and friends
in a city of Palestine. Refused lodging among men, he seeks refuge and comfort
among mere animals, choosing their habitation as the place of his birth,
allowing their breath to give warmth to his tender body. He permits simple and
rustic shepherds to be the first to pay their respects to him, after he himself
informed them, by means of his angels, of the wonderful mystery.
Oh wisdom and power of God, we are constrained to exclaim –
enraptured along with your Apostle – how incomprehensible are your judgments and
unsearchable your ways! Poverty, humility, abjection, contempt, all surround the
Word made flesh. But we, out of the darkness that envelops the incarnate Word,
understand one thing, hear one voice, perceive one sublime truth: you have done
everything out of love, you invite us to nothing else but love, speak of nothing
except love, give us naught except proofs of love.
The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib so that for us
suffering would be sweet, meritorious and accepted. He deprives himself of
everything, in order that we may learn from him the renunciation of worldly
goods and comforts. He is satisfied with humble and poor adorers, to encourage
us to love poverty, and to prefer the company of the little and simple rather
than the great ones of the world.
This celestial child, all meekness and sweetness, wishes to impress
in our hearts by his example these sublime virtues, so that from a world that is
torn and devastated an era of peace and love may spring forth. Even from the
moment of his birth he reveals to us our mission, which is to scorn that which
the world loves and seeks.
Oh let us prostrate ourselves before the manger, and along with the
great St. Jerome, who was enflamed with the love of the infant Jesus, let us
offer him all our hearts without reserve. Let us promise to follow the precepts
which come to us from the grotto of Bethlehem, which teach us that everything
here below is vanity of vanities, nothing but vanity.