In The New York Times the other day Maureen Dowd’s column was about a visit she and her brother made to see a collection of Christmas crèches in New Haven, Ct. She’s a columnist who makes fun of things, and in this column she made fun of those who compulsively collect crèches. In fact, she bought for herself a bizarre crèche to illustrate how wacky it can get. As I put down the paper, though, I wasn’t laughing. I had the impression that a crèche doesn’t mean much to her at all.
Today I read a selection from an early Roman saint, Hippolytus, “Against the Noetic Heresy” and I thought of her and the crèche. The Noetics, if I remember, were Gnostics who looked down on Christianity because they thought they were smarter than anything it had to offer. They were smart, sophisticated people.
Hippolytus said something like this:
“When God speaks we better pay attention, and God has spoken to us in Jesus Christ. Look at what the scriptures say about him. Learn from what they teach. Believe in what they tell us. You don’t decide the way God reveals himself. God decides that. Look at the way he reveals himself and learn from him.”
We learn so much from the mystery of the birth of Jesus Christ. Look at the humility of God, who comes to us as a tiny infant. Look at the way he invites the rough shepherds to be the first to see him as he lights up the dark hills with his glory. So he welcomes the poorest among us. We are invited to see him too and share in his life and light.
We should pay attention to the revelation of God we celebrate these holy days. It tells us of a God who loves us. It says that God wants to be near us, to be part of our lives, to lead us to a new life.