Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Nothing shows that we are so far from Christ as Christmas. As Saint Luke tells us, the baby was born of a virgin, had no room for him at the inn, and was born where animals were kept in a manger. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes not the fancy one but what the poor have. Mary and Joseph were poor.

The manifestation that this wasn't an ordinary baby came from what the shepherds say what the angels told them. The first visitors to see the baby were what the scriptures say are downtrodden.

The baby was born empty of the trappings of one who has power. None of the shepherds offered a present as the Lucan gospel tells us. It was the magi who gave the precious presents of myrrh, gold and frankincense since they recognized that the child was of royal lineage and has absolute power. But the baby would follow the Israelite way of being refugees and flee to Egypt. This baby has experienced everything!

Even this power had to be emptied and whatever power Christ exhibited during his earthly life was due to the Father. The Greeks called the whole process of emptying as kenosis. The whole life of Jesus the Christ is one of emptying. Jesus life was almost empty save for the Father and prayer. His followers couldn't even understand him and in the end abandoned him. The best and most "mapapel" disciple even denied him!

We are so far from what Christ was since at Christmas we get presents. We are further from Christ since our nature is that we expect to receive presents, the more expensive the better. Even one popular carol has this

"A child, a child shivers in the cold, Let us bring him silver and gold." The baby doesn't need those. He has those by birthright. What he doesn't have is a blanket!

I reflected in this after my old ideas on Christmas were forever mangled by the 1) Jesuits and 2) the Anglicans.

But this year with the economic recession most people feel they have been emptied. Perhaps this is the right time to reflect what Christmas is all about. We are nearer to Bethlehem as never before.

The Church felt it didactically practical to mark the events in Jesus' life in the calendar as feasts. However Jesus' life is one continuum of kenosis that culminated on Good Friday. After which his absolute power was all to be seen. He has destroyed death.

But unlike the magi, at our state and unless we empty ourselves, we won't reach Bethlehem. The baby has to come to us.

Merry Christmas to all!

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