Fr. Leo Pabayo .
THEY were expecting His coming. There was so much buzz among the Chosen People that the Messiah, the Savior was coming. But when He came, it escaped their notice completely. The circumstances of the birth of the Savior were most unusual and not expected by them. It was on the surface too ordinary to be noticed. It had nothing of the popular idea then about the coming of the Messiah.
The popular idea was that when he came he would route the enemies of Israel in decisive battles just as King David did. He would “pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies” and the nations will “fall beneath His feet.” But His actual coming did not have the slightest trace of these. He does not “gird a sword upon His side”, riding on triumphantly displaying awesome deeds. Instead he comes into the world as a helpless baby totally dependent on the goodness of others.
His mother is a humble maid from Nazareth, the foster father, a carpenter. He is born in a little town called Bethlehem as his parents were complying with the order of the emperor to register themselves in a census.
Joseph, the foster father did not even know anyone who was influential in the town to be able get lodging for Him and His mother. He had no relative or kumpare with means who could put them up during their stay in Bethlehem. They came from Nazareth Of this town, Nathaniel would derisively ask the question, “Can anything significant come out of Nazareth ?” Galilee, the province to which Nazareth belongs was also among the least of the provinces of Judea . It was said that Galileeans were often the butt of the jokes because of their simplicity or provincial ways. A “true Galileean” was referred to as a man “without guile.”
Mary and Joseph had to take lodging in a stable or cave for animals. It is there that she gives birth to Him. He is not clothed “with splendor and majesty.” He is instead clothed in swaddling clothes and the His first bed is a manger.
We refer to Him now as the King of kings, the Lord of lords before Whom all will bow. Yet, when He first came there is no one to give him even the hospitality that an ordinary man deserves. His first lodging was a stable of animals.
“Being in very nature God, He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness… he humbled himself .”(Philippians 2:6-8)
For a Messiah, the Savior of the world, the circumstances of His birth is certainly most unusual and unexpected. But this was the way that He would go about His work of saving the world. This is the way that the world will be saved. He showed that this way is the most successful, the most cost effective, the most human and guaranteed way of saving our humanity, the most Godly. But it is so different to what we have been used to. Our way is the way of efficiency, big budget, the most sensational, “bonggang bongga”, the most popular, the way of “shock and awe”, the way of terror and torture, the way of vote buying and cheating, etc..
The way of the child in the manger is impossible for us. But if it is really the only real way. This is where we have to start… , then we have to start somewhere. “Hinay hinay” we have to take the first steps.
“Glory to God in the highest”, “Peace and goodwill” among people,” “Joy to every heart and to the world”, “Tidings of comfort and joy” as well as the words and phrases that we sing during Christmas. These are the only really worthwhile goals to strive for. These are the truly human goals of development. They are infinitely better than being competitive in a selfish world. They are infinitely better than big mansions, owning big conglomerates, awesome malls, big and flashy cars, paradise resorts, having the best boxers in the world, winning other international contests, etc.. These human goals do not need big investments from abroad, They only need the justice, love and peace of His kingdom. With these we will have everything else.
(Fr. Leo Pabayo is a member of the Society of Jesus.)