Have you made a visit to the nativity scene or crib as a way to deepen your devotion in the season of Christmas? If you have not, then you are missing something.

This pictorial representation of the birthplace of Jesus assumes a significant place by reminding us of the humble, lowly, poor and quiet way the Son of God was born. Thus, no matter how exotic the design of the crib, it has never failed to retain features of simplicity of the Word-made-flesh.

In a world where many people tend to believe that it is worthless to be humble or submissive and everyone seems to be in a rat race, we are reminded that the Son of God was born in a manger, without any splendour or royalty. Jesus subjected himself to the nature of man.  

The crib also takes us back to the Garden of Eden, a state of innocence that reveals the Creator in the midst of his creatures. It is where heaven and earth again meet, and God mixes with his people. 

This ordinarily “despised” place was the first home of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. In our time, any family living in that kind of condition is usually of low or no reckoning. Little wonder that such family is considered wretched – the scum of the earth. Now, the crib occupies a place of pride in human history as the form that our God took to save us.

In the crib, the concept of power is reversed. Power does not mean residing in the best of places and God used the lowliness of the manger to overcome the pride of man, and its quietness to overcome the noise of the world.

Even from the manger, the Son of God wields so much influence. We are always reminded that he went the way of the manger for our sake. He really wanted us to have access to him, not being driven away by his all-powerful might. According to St Leo the Great, “if God had not come down to us by this humility, no one could have come to him by any merits of his own.”

The crib also shows how material wealth and wisdom can be deceptive.  Most times, they are not really what they portray. True greatness does not lie in them. Herod was disturbed by the greatness of the new-born King to the extent of committing infanticide. Herod knew he did not actually have the true greatness so he tried to eliminate Jesus. Today, ambitious people such as Herod still struggle for positions and power and they sometimes maim or kill or do both to realise their ambitions. Often, they call or arrogate to  themselves what they are not.

Let us not feel that we lose something by being humble. The general impression is that humility allows others to ride roughshod on the humble. This is not correct. That one does not blow one’s trumpet or assert one’s authority does not mean one is weak. No. The humble rather gains something great; he or she gains God’s approval for true greatness consists in what God thinks about him or her. It is not what the person says or what others acclaim.  Also, humility costs nothing but buys all.

Similarly, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St John the Baptist, among many other biblical figures, exhibited the virtue of humility in spite of their greatness. Indeed, true greatness lies in humility and humility is the way of God. Christmas, thus, remains a special moment to celebrate the humility of the Son of God who became man in order to save humanity.

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