The Christmas Crib

From the Radiomessage of Albino Cardinal Luciani, Patriarch of Venice, and future Pope John Paul I, December 25, 1971.

The Christmas crib . . . does not only fill the eyes of the children with enchantment and wonder, it is not only a happy note of color; it is a book that even the adults must decipher and read. It sums up life as it appears to the eyes of us Christians. At the top, above the stable, the angels who announce Christ’s birth. In the middle, the baby. Near him Mary, the “wondrous mother” and Joseph her husband. Around them, the poor shepherds and the rich Magi. Also standing around are the animals most closely tied to man: the ox and the ass in the stall, the shepherds’ lambs. Here there is an ecumenical brotherhood; there is an covenant between the high and the low, between the beasts and man, of all men with each other, between men and God.

But the center, the light, the sun of this picture is the baby: God made man, who has become our brother. Looking at him, the Christians of the East are accustomed to say: “How great you have made us, Lord!” We Venetians, on the other hand, say, “How small you have made yourself, Lord!” And we add: “It is truly fortunate that you have come! We are wretched and burdened with debts towards God the Father, but between the Father and us, now there is you. It is like when we put on red glasses and everything appears red to us: the Father looks at us through the red of your goodness and makes us good and finds us good too!”

You have loved us, O Lord! The crib and Bethlehem are only a beginning. Nazareth, Jerusalem, Calvary, the cross and the resurrection are the completion. They say to us, “He has done everything for you. What will you do for him?”

A Blessed Christmas to everyone!

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