The immense in the tiny

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What are we going to do with the sign given to us at Christmas? Let us not risk losing the newborn Child, the immense one who has become tiny replies Father Luc de Bellescize. We must place ourselves in the camp of the shepherds, that is to say, the camp of the watchers.

It was Saint Francis of Assisi, the little brother, the rich merchant who became poor for the love of Christ, who invented the nativity scene. It was Christmas Day in the year 1223, in the town of Greccio, north of Rome. He loved this place of lake and mountain where he sometimes came to contemplate the mystery of God in intense prayer. And it was there that he had the idea of ​​awakening in the sleeping Church the memory of Bethlehem, of this most beautiful night where the Highest became the very lowest, where the Almighty, immense, made himself completely vulnerable so that we could approach him with confidence. Who would be afraid of a child? Francis wanted to give Christ back to the Church, to awaken the consciousness of a God who is close, to break the shell of jaded indifference that seems to grip our lives so often and makes us incapable of marveling, even if only ‘for a moment, to the smile of a child.

Let us not be one of those bodies asleep in the torpor of earthly food, of those accustomed and almost dead souls who, as Charles Péguy said, do not “wet” not to the water of grace, because they think that everything is equal, that there is nothing new under the sun, and that nothing can escape the weight of their immutable habits. Today we are given a new child, a newborn child so that each of us can be born again. 

If all the religions of the world are ways where man tries, as best he can, to reach God, the Christian revelation is unique, because it is God who comes to join man, to the point of pitching his tent among us. What we experience on Christmas Eve did not come from the heart of man, nor his intelligence, nor his fertile imagination, but came down from the Heart of God. God became man. Tell me: what other religion dares to proclaim this mystery? Is not God the Almighty, the beyond, the one who dwells in the inaccessible light? And yet this light has risen among us, in a dark stable under a starry sky. “The people who walked in darkness saw a great light arise. On the inhabitants of the land of darkness, a light has shone. […] A child is born to us, a son is given to us” ( Is 9:1 ). What dignity is that of man, if God became man! And what greatness of God is that of stooping to the level of man! The characteristic of love is to lower itself to the rank of servant. 

“Our God became man,” says Saint Irenaeus of Lyon, “so that man might be God.”So that man, by receiving in his heavy hands, laden with sins and crimes, this newborn Child, can once again access hope, and can be born to eternal Life. The Whole is in the fragment. The infinitely large in the tiny. Like a shell that one puts to one’s ear to hear the sound of the whole sea, in this Child “the fullness of the divinity dwells bodily” ( Col 2:9 ). 

You have to choose your side

It is difficult for man to believe because faith requires the humility of intelligence, where I accept not to be myself the measure of what is true or false, but where I kneel before the revelation that God makes to me of his mystery, which always surpasses me. We must accept today, as adults as we are, to be overtaken by a child. When you go to the Basilica of Bethlehem, the place where, according to Tradition, the Child Jesus was born, you have to bend down and go through a small narrow door. This means that we only have access to the knowledge of God by renouncing our pride and our pride to marvel for a moment at the beauty of the sign announced by the angels: “Today a Savior is born to you, in the city of David. And this is the sign given to you: you will find a newborn baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” ( Lk 2:11 ). 

It is a sign that requires the acquiescence of faith. It is by faith that we can decipher the hidden meaning of this child behind the simplicity of his appearance: this newborn carries within him the drama of the Salvation of the world. He comes to die and to resurrect, he comes to give his Body as food. He is wrapped in swaddling clothes, just as at the hour of his death will be covered with swaddling clothes and the great shroud. He is lying in a manger because he is the true Bread, the Bread that we receive in the Eucharistic mystery. Bethlehem also means the house of bread. But what bread is it? Not bread from the earth which satisfies the body, but bread from Heaven, which fills those who are still hungry, those who are still thirsty. This is where we only have two options. You have to choose your side: either that of the innkeepers or that of the shepherds. The innkeepers no longer had room to receive the Child Jesus. The common room was full… We must place ourselves in the shepherds’ camp, that is to say, become watchmen like a watchman awaits the dawn and scrutinizes the depth of the night.“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. They will be satisfied” ( MSt 5:6 ). Let us not risk seeing this Child move away, losing him in the crowd of our concerns, our priorities, our life so full, but often also without scope or real depth because God no longer has the place to honor that belongs to him. 

Fragile and indomitable watchers

“You also, son of man, have I made you a watchman for the house of Israel” ( Ez 33:7 ). May the Lord make us watchmen for the whole Church, “vigilant in prayer and filled with joy” (advent preface so that she does not fall asleep in submission to the spirit of the world under the pretext of pastoral openness and largeness of heart. So that she keeps the faith in a time of vagueness and uncertainty which troubles so many fervent Catholics, among the smallest who are the beloved of the Lord, and contributes to the spectacular collapse of consecrated vocations. “The truths have been diminished by the children of men” (Ps 9), (translation Vulgate) and first of all by those who are supposed to preserve and teach them to strengthen us in the unity of the faith. May the Lord also keep us from the sadness of the soul that put the apostles to sleep in Gethsemane, from the bitterness of our failures and the weariness of our sins. May he give us the courage to keep the joy in the hollow of our hearts, like a fragile flame in the palm of our hands? Fragile and indomitable, as is fragile and indomitable the little child of Bethlehem, the slain Lamb, and the Lion of Judah. 

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