Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Smell of a Stable

These quotes from the liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez further inform my experience of our Advent creche at church this year.

"The need to keep awake translates into listening to the clamor for liberation, supporting and empowering our peoples' deepest hopes. Waiting for the Lord does not bring us out of history; it involves us with it since we are hoping for the God who has come and is in our midst. Such a hope is ambitious but it is worthwhile."

"Christmas is a celebration of joy and hope. However, we have to admit that it is not always easy to experience this in today's world. Overwhelmed by the ever-increasing poverty of so many men and women, our shouts of joy at the birth of the Lord seem to choke up in our throats. For many people, bewildered by the difficulty of finding a solution to this predicament, discouragement destroys the energy needed to face this situation.

"Yet the presence of the Lord in our history is a permanent call to return to the sources of our faith. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, surrounded by shepherds and animals. His parents had come to a stable because they had not found a place in the inn. There, in marginality, the Son of God entered history, the Word became flesh. . . .

"During this period of Christmas, people often say that Jesus is born in every family and every Christian heart. But these 'births' must not bypass the primary and undeniable reality: Jesus was born of Mary in the midst of a people dominated at the time by the greatest empire of those days. If we forget this, Jesus' coming into the world can become an abstraction. For Christians, Christmas manifests God's irruption into human history--a Christmas of lowliness and of service in the midst of the power of domination and the predominance of the powerful in this world, an irruption with the smell of a stable.

"God is revealed in Jesus Christ, in him 'the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all' (Ti 2:11). We have to learn to believe from the point of departure of our present historical situation: in the midst of the constant detrioration of the conditions of life of a poor and excluded people, the lack of work and opportunities for so many, the lies and manipulations of the powerful to place a smoke screen over their unjust privileges. From the first Christmas on, we cannot separate Christian faith from human history."

Gustavo Gutierrez in "Sharing the Word through the Liturgical Year." (Orbis Books, 1997)

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