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LIFE MATTERS: Reflections on the Nativity Readings

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By Dencio S. Acop

The Nativity Readings over Christmas give us three reflections to ponder on. First, they convey the message of unity between Christ the bridegroom and his bride, the people of God. Second, the readings confirm the message that God’s salvific plan for His people targeted the most sinful of sinners, the outcasts of society. And third, they warn that the way of secularism threatens to reverse God’s salvific plan for mankind. In the first reflection, God did send His only begotten Son to be one with us in the most intimate of relationships – as our bridegroom. Yes, Christ came to marry mankind. Especially in the early days, marriage between a man and a woman meant all-around security for the woman. Women in those days were helpless and vulnerable without the man in the house. The woman and her children were left alone if there was a man in the house. They could survive if there was a husband around because only he could earn a living. But even that was not enough. There had to be a community of like-modeled families wherein women had husbands and children had parents and together they survived against enemy tribes and villages who threatened them. Pretty soon, even that too was not enough. Those disconnected communities had to form a nation so that together, the nation can withstand the onslaughts of other threatening nations. And finally, even that too was not enough. The nation had to find land it could call its own territory so that such sanctuary could prevent wars and bring in peace. Truces had to be made with the other nations, now countries, so that people could stop killing each other and live in peace. Parents and community leaders educated their children so that the bitter lessons of the past could be avoided moving forward. Thus, the bridegroom had to be a priest, prophet, and king to his family and people to survive and flourish. The Holy Family modeled this and the baby in its midst, Jesus, grew up to unite the twelve tribes of Israel and spark a revolution that expanded into a world empire through the Gentiles. Jesus, the bridegroom, continues to protect his bride – his mystical body, to this day. 

Second, God’s salvific plan targeted more the most sinful of sinners and outcasts than the devout pious who thought they were already saved from the wrath of God. Fr. Jim in his homily on Christmas Day said that the angels appeared to shepherds to announce Jesus’ birth. Not to the king, Herod, or the Pharisees. Fr. Jim explained that back in the day, the shepherds were the lowest of workers. They were looked down upon as low-life’s and untrustworthy. Yet, God targeted them. The presider further explained that Bethlehem, the place where Jesus was born, in Hebrew means ‘House of Bread’. Now, we know that this bread is the ‘bread of everlasting life’. And it is housed in the Tabernacle. And that anyone who eats of it will have life in him that never ends. In Nazareth, where the mother of Jesus, Mary, was born and raised, one cannot enter the place of the Annunciation without first bowing. Jesus himself, the Son of God, came to us as a baby born in a manger and raised humbly as a carpenter’s son. And when he began his public ministry, he targeted the worst of unbelievers and sinners to act, speak, and pray his message of salvation. Not the rich, learned, pious, or powerful. And in the end, God allowed Himself to be arrested as a common criminal, tortured, mocked, humiliated, and killed through hanging on a cross – the most barbaric execution invented by the Roman empire. The point of God’s salvific plan is that He came as He did so that He could access the most sinful of sinners and try to redeem them using their weakness against their power and their power against their weakness. After all, He is God. But His salvific plan was all about humility. Becoming human was God’s humble but effective plan.   

And the third reflection from the nativity readings warns that the way of secularism threatens to reverse God’s salvific plan for mankind. We recently watched today’s movies like ‘The World We Leave Behind’ and ‘Rebel Moon’ and I cannot but reflect that the more we automate, the more we lose ourselves. It is remarkable that in my generation, I saw when there was no computer and then there was, along with, beepers, transceivers, laptops, blackberry’s, cellphones, and now interconnected cables of every kind, on tiny platforms as mobile phones, etc. All enabled by satellites high up in the sky. And now the world is talking artificial intelligence and quantum computing, among others on the pipelines. The world is now divided between secularism and non-secularism, between authoritarianism and liberalism, and increasingly between de-humanization and humanity. Machines are replacing humans without regard to anything sacred. Imperfect as he is, man is replacing the place of God and making a mess of His creation. Sinful as he is, man has become self-absorbed, narrow-minded, short-sighted, and arrogant to the point of self-destruction. Man is caving in on himself. Finding only war in the place of peace. And that war will come. Interiorly and exteriorly. Because it is the way of nature. But it is against God’s salvific plan. Something He already gifted us with. What do you think will happen next?       

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