Along life's journey, we make many stops. Some are significant and others not so significant. In many ways the story of Mary and Joseph's journey to becoming the parents of Jesus, is our story too. Certainly love, misunderstanding, fear, joy and sorrow are part of our journeys as well. In that spirit, I share these reflections which I have chosen to call "Stations of the Crib." As we prepare for Jesus' birth, may these reflections help us to see that we are constantly birthing, constantly dying and constantly being reborn into new life.
- Brother Gus Parlavehcio, C.P.
VII. A Child is Born
"And so it came to pass that Mary gave birth to her first born son and laid him in a manger."
So often this scene is depicted as warm and cozy and in glowing light. Yet, in reality, it was perhaps a little warmer than outside and hardly cozy being housed with animals and all the attendant smells and sounds; and as far as glowing light goes - well, just a little light from an oil lamp.
In spite of these awesomely simple surroundings, birth did take place. New life came into our world. How could Mary and Joseph have possibly known how that new life would. change the world? Although they knew this was God's Son - could they have imagined in their wildest dreams just what that would mean - for them - for the little boy - for us?
When new life comes into our world - a son or daughter - a grandson or granddaughter - an extended family member, friend, neighbor -- can we imagine what God has entrusted to and of these persons? After all, many of life's profoundest mysteries are entrusted to those who appear least likely.
In the silent, holy night pierced by new cries or old moans, may we look to Mary and Joseph who respected the new life born on that cold night in a stable. May we always reverence life - new life - old life - all life.
X. Wise Kings Pay Homage
A streak of light - the Scriptures say a star - attracted them - these so-called Kings. And they chose to follow it brought them to Bethlehem and to the stable where they found Mary and Joseph and the Baby and the Shepherds. In that unlikely place, these Kings bowed down and paid homage to the Child. What a strange scene that must have been - a stable, a baby and his worn-out parents; and poor shepherds - and in their midst these three well educated men, called Wise Men - dressed in finery with strong well-groomed camels for transport - offering expensive gifts to this Baby King.
Sometimes we find ourselves among opposites. Into our stables might stumble the rich and powerful; the poor and marginalized; people that society considers odd. When this occurs, do we strive to practice the gospel value of hospitality?
In the silent, holy night the Wise Men came. They saw - and they did not scoff at the place or the people. They listened to their hearts - and in that listening understood. Help us, Lord, to be wise men and women - to listen with our hearts and to realize that sometimes the greatest truths come wrapped in very ordinary-looking packages.
XII. Another Journey - This Time to Egypt
King Herod was a jealous man. He heard that a King had been born in Bethlehem and he wasn't about to have another "King" in his kingdom. He had hoped the Wise Men would reveal this king to him, but they didn't.
To protect Jesus and Mary and Joseph from the jealous King, God, once again in a dream, inspired Joseph to take Mary and the child to Egypt. And in so doing, the child Was spared from the wrath of Herod.
Jealousy can be very powerful. It can motivate us to take extreme measures, or motivate others to take extreme measures against us. Does jealously rear its ugly head and lead us to want to destroy what we perceive as threats to our values?
In the silent, holy night of inspiration, Lord, may we like Joseph take appropriate action - be willing to put ourselves 'on the line' for justice -- for protection - for honor -- and thus spare others and ourselves from jealous and irrational wrath.
XIV. Home To Nazareth - To Wisdom and Grace - And Beyond
And so the time finally came when Mary and Joseph and Jesus could return to their home at Nazareth.
Home - the place that is familiar, comfortable, safe, and where there is always a warm stream of light. Home where we expect to find love and in love grow in wisdom and grace. Home is where we dream dreams beyond imagining.
Mary and Joseph's home in Nazareth was probably simple - adequate - nothing fancy. Yet in that humble home, the Lord of All became familiar with it, was comforted in it when he fell and skinned his knee, and began to acquire human knowledge. In that home Jesus studied the Wisdom of his blessed ancestors, and grew into a graceful and grace-filled Man and dreamed God's dream - that dream that we all be one.
In some homes, there is no streak of light --little or no love - and they are not places of comfort. In some homes people dream of light, love and comfort. We can help to make those dreams come true by our efforts to grow in love and care and contribute a bit to making God's dream come true.
In the silent. holy night of our hopefully comfortable and safe and loving homes, Lord, we ask you to help us to trust - to receive and give comfort to those with whom we live - to be open to new and different ways of doing things - and to dream dreams and respect the dreams of others.
And when the silent, holy night of our birth into new life comes upon us and we embrace the life beyond, let us be one With you and become apart of your promise of fulfillment.
We extend our gratitude to Brother Gus and the Passionist Community for allowing us to incorporate some of the Stations of the Crib in our magazine.
For more information and to request a complete copy of the Stations of the Crib ($3.95/copy plus shipping and handling) please contact:
Calvary Retreat Center
P.O. Box 219
59 South Street
Shrewsbury, MA 01545-0219
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