If only we saw the first Nativity scene

Posted on December 24, 2010


This season of glitters, gifts, and lights paints for us a neat and romantic picture of the first Christmas night. But if we had lived 2,000 years ago — without the preconditioning that the baby who was born will eventually heal the sick, raise the dead, and die and rise from the dead himself — would we have believed? 

Jesus, in the Gospels, always came as he is and shied away from special treatment, so I doubt if he was born with music in the air, halos on his and his parents’ heads, and angels visibly hovering over a well-arranged manger. The setting could have more probably been a slum community of our time — dirty, humid, bustling with noise even at night. With this in mind, would we see in the newborn child the King of Kings, or just another street urchin?

If we had lived then — and as we live now — would we have the eyes to recognize the Son of the Most High in disguise?

“For this fragile, vulnerable child asleep in the manger, whose head is so small you could crush it in one hand like an eggshell, is God in the flesh.

 “In him, we see the profound humility of God, God’s self-abasement in love, and recognize at the same time, to our shame and confusion, our pride: the way we build our sense of selves on the comforting feeling that we are somehow superior to others; the contempt in which we hold those less intelligent, less physically appealing, less religiously committed, than ourselves.”

— Fr. Daniel Patrick L. Huang, SJ, now the Jesuit regional assistant for Asia-Pacific, in a homily at the Loyola School of Theology on December 13, 1996

*adapted from a post on my old blog, Knock, Knock