one day at a time
Hope Where did the Baby go?
Whoops! Another Christmas come and gone. Trees dismantled or put out on the streets. Gifts stowed away (or returned). Thank you cards written (if anyone still does that these days). Valentine’s Day dominates the retail merchandising motif. School has started up again with its round of homework and meetings and sports and… Whew! It’s exhausting just thinking of it. Christmas seems like it was just a blip on the screen of our otherwise very busy, super-efficient, overwhelmed lives. So where did the Baby go? I can imagine the Shepherds coming back to the stable after the Holy Family had either moved into an inn or taken off for Egypt. “Hey, where did the Baby go?” Maybe they made discreet inquiries around, trying to see if they could find the special Child announced by the angels in the midnight sky. Where did the Baby go? Herod was wondering the same thing. He definitely didn’t want the Baby around. He was a threat. His existence would create problems for his kingship. Where did the Baby go?
The three kings probably didn’t wonder. They had received from the Child the Light he had come to bring, and now they carried that Light into the world. They parted from the Child knowing that each of them now was carrying out the designs of God, playing their part in the drama of salvation history. Where did the Baby go? Have you taken down your nativity scene, carefully packing away all the figurines? Do you store it in the attic, or on the top shelf of a closet, or in the basement? Is that what the Baby has become…a figurine in a manger scene that depicts something that happened two millennia ago? Where is the Baby?! Benedict XVI posed some powerful reflection questions on just this topic in his homily on Christmas night: “I am struck by the Gospel writer’s almost casual remark that there was no room for them at the inn. Inevitably the question arises, what would happen if Mary and Joseph were to knock at my door. Would there be room for him? … Do we have time and space for him? Do we not actually turn away God himself? We begin to do so when we have no time for God. The faster we move, the more efficient our timesaving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent. Our time is already completely full. But matters go deeper still. Does God actually have a place in our thinking? Our process of thinking is structured in such a way that he simply ought not to exist…. There is no room for him. Not even in our feelings and desires is there any room for him. We want ourselves. We want what we can seize hold of, we want happiness that is within our reach, we want our plans and purposes to succeed. We are so ‘full’ of ourselves that there is no room left for God. And that means there is no room for others either, for children, for the poor, for the stranger. “Let us ask the Lord that we may become vigilant for his presence, that we may hear how softly yet insistently he knocks at the door of our being and willing. Let us ask that we may make room for him within ourselves, that we may recognize him also in those through whom he speaks to us: children, the suffering, the abandoned, those who are excluded and the poor of this world. Let us go over to Bethlehem…let us go ‘across,’ daring to step beyond.
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