Tag Archives: creche

God in a Creche

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.

Window on the World

The window in my room faces west to a slice of Union City that includes the old monastery church and parking space, some city athletic fields, a crowded  block of houses along 21st Street and a few big oak trees that somehow have survived the urban sprawl.  It’s a wonderful window for taking in the world.

Earlier this morning, Jose reached into the van carrying some neighborhood people to work to bless them, anticipating the morning sun that blesses everything now. A  few minutes ago, a flock of pigeons momentarily touched down on the wires along the street, thenflew away. I can’t figure out their unpredictable ways.

I leave the tiny figures of Mary and Joseph and the Child on the window sill all year because they seem to complete the picture.  Keep your eyes fixed on examples of faith, St. Ambrose said yesterday in his commentary on the Visitation.  Mary saw it in Elizabeth and Elizabeth saw it in Mary. Joseph certainly had eyes of faith too.  The Child is so small.  Only eyes of faith can see him–and everything else as well.