12 Days of Christmas Reflection Series – Day 5
6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no guest room available for them.
When I was young, I was so fond of the song which was meaningfully sung during the Midnight mass or the mass which was deliberately and dramatically held at or end at midnight of 24th December which already is the 25th of December. The first stanza of the song goes, “Away in a manger no crib for His bed, The little Lord Jesus Laid down His sweet head.”
Maybe you also do, you may be also are fond of this song and sing together when it is sung or played. Unlike me, however, I may not hear the meaning of it since English is not my mother language that the word “manger” is not familiar to me. Never did I hear the word ‘manger’ in our casual talks. Honestly, I only realized that it is a “pasongan” when I was already a seminarian preparing for my sermon and trying to understand how lowly and humble the birth of the messiah was.
‘pasongan’ or a manger then is a trough, an open box in a stable designed to hold feed or fodder for livestock. It is where the food of the animals is placed when feeding them.
So, it was not only that there was no room available for the holy family in the guest houses of Bethlehem. In the gospel written by Matthew, it says, “Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (8:19-20)
The messiah was a low-born. Jesus belongs to the lowly not to make them stay in the same status of low birth by lifting them up. That world system in his time was a wrong system economically and politically. No wonder that in John 10:10, Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life abundantly.”
Now, look at our society. Is it the way Jesus or the God of life and abundance wants our lives to be? When only a handful of people possessed the wealth of the world, and the majority are suffering economically?
Look at the churches, the church buildings, and the adornment in these so-called holy places. How can these church buildings be extremely extravagant while pretending to worship God in Jesus who was born without a crib for his bed? How can these church leaders live so comfortably while the majority of God’s people are suffering from utmost poverty?
Can the church follow what the early Christians did? The bible recorded in Acts of the Apostles 4:34-35, “There were no needy ones among them because those who owned lands or houses would sell their property, bring the proceeds from the sales, and lay them at the apostles’ feet for distribution to anyone as he had need.”
Obviously, the church cannot do this and cannot teach the believers to do this. They even make many justifications about this passage in the Bible just to cover up for its incapacity to do so. But can the church, at least, be sensitive to the peoples’ situation of poverty? Can the church stop offend the poor, and the child Jesus who slept in a manger?
A meaningful Christmas everyone!
Hamburg, 29th December 2021, the Fifth day of Christmas