Despite the problems, Christmas is still Christmas

Chegou-me somente agora a tradução inglesa de meu texto sobre o Natal. Como o Natal é mais que uma data mas um espírito de paz e de amor, vale também para atual situação sob a qual vivemos: Lboff

These are somber times around the world and in our country. There is too much rage and hatred. Above all, is the lack of sensitivity towards our fellow human beings, especially the children, such as the Baby Jesus, who lives in the streets and suffers abuse. But in spite of it all, we are living the humanity that our God assumed; a very contradictory human condition.

Christianity is not about announcing the death of God, but about humanity, the benevolence and the merciful love of God. We see the Baby between the ox and the mule: the joviality and eternal youth of God Himself smiles through Him.

Passing through Bethlehem of Judah, I heard a tender whisper. It was the voice of Mary rocking her infant: “My Baby, my Sun, how will I clothe you? How will I nurse you, if you are the one who nourishes all creatures”?

From the manger also came an angelical voice: “Oh human creature, why are you afraid of God? Don’t you see that His mother swaddled His fragile little body? A child neither threatens nor condemns any one. Don’t you hear His soft cry? More than helping others, He needs to be helped and cuddled”.

Let’s not allow what Saint John wrote in his gospel to come true: “He came to His people and His people did not receive Him”. We want to be among those who do receive Him, as a brother and companion in the journey.

God’s entrance into the world was not overwhelming. It occurred at the margins of official history, outside the city, in the middle of the darkest night, in an animal shed. Nothing was known either in Rome, the capital of the empire, or in Jerusalem, the religious center of the People of Israel. Almost no one noticed: only those with a simple heart, such as the pastors of Bethlehem. They came to the shed where the Divine Child was shivering from the cold.

The Nativity offers us the key to deciphering some of the most inscrutable mysteries of our afflicted existence. Human beings have always questioned others and themselves: why is our existence so fragile? Why all the humiliation and the suffering? And God was silent. But in the Nativity an answer is found: God made Himself as fragile as we are. God humiliated himself and suffered as all human beings suffer. This was God’s answer: not in words but with a gesture of identification. We are no longer alone in our immense loneliness. God is with us. His name is Jesus.

The Nativity also gives us the key to the meaning of being human. We are an unfinished project. Only the Infinite can realize our full humanity. And it so happened that the Infinite became human so that the human could realize his Infinite project. The Infinite became a human being so that the human being could become Infinite.

To finish, nothing is more moving than these verses about the Child Jesus by the great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa:

He is the Eternal Child, the God we were missing.

He is so human that it is natural.

He is the divinity that smiles and plays.

Because of that I know with all certainty

That He is the true Child Jesus.

He is a child so human that He is divine.

We get along so well, the two of us,

In the company of everything,

That we never think of one in the other.

But we live the two of us together,

With an intimate agreement,

Like the right hand and the left hand.

When I die, Child of mine,

Let me be a child, the smallest one.

Take me in your arms and carry to your home.

Undress my tired and human being.

And lay me in your bed.

And if I wake, tell me stories,

That I may go back to sleep.

And let me play with your dreams,

Until I am born one day

You know which one it is.

Merry Christmas to all, men and women. Let’s trust: there is a Star, such as the star of Bethlehem, that illuminates our path no matter how dark it may be. Even if I do not know the path, Child Jesus, You know it; and You know it very well.

Leonardo Boff Eco-Theologian-Philosopher Earthcharter Commission

Free translation from the Spanish


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