So it was that the Baby Jesus was born in but a manger. So it is that no manger of any kind is intended to be the birthplace of anyone. Yet so it was that nothing more than a manger precisely became the birthplace of Christ. And so it is that the manger – with the newly-born Jesus surrounded by His Mother Mary and their guardian Joseph – has become the most eloquent symbol of the unity, the union and communion of every family. And so is it too that in practically all Churches – big or small, prominent or common – the Belen is the centerpiece of attention and awe on the occasion of these days of Christmas.
The Belen ardently invites people to remember how precious is every human family. Woe to those who break this smallest unit of society that is the fruit of the greatest human covenant that is not only spousal but also parental and conjugal: Spousal because it is the closest human companionship. Parental whereas it is what makes man a father, what turns a woman into a mother. It is conjugal considering that father and mother share the burden of raising and caring for their children. And one it must remain in home, one at table and one in prayers.
The Belen is truly a great reminder of why a family must together pray so that together it remains. While it is not really fun to live alone, neither is it easy to keep the family one and united, to nurture and care for it so that it becomes the origin of love and contentment, the springboard of joy and hope. Bound together in mind, heart and spirit – this is when the saying “One for all and all for one.” becomes a living reality. It is not easy to keep a family together – but breaking it apart equals the biggest human pain. To break apart whatever is meant to be one – like the world, humanity and the family – is the true and real meaning of devastation.
The Belen warns anyone who would dare break a family – through a father who walks away, a mother who does not care, a child who runs away therefrom. A broken family leaves no one intact and strong, in peace and at ease. It is an intact family that enjoys the joyful mysteries of life, that bears the pains of sorrowful living, that rejoices with the glorious episodes of family life. And woe to any non-member of a family who would dare destroy the family. That would be destroying many – the destroyer included.
Unity makes a family one in rejoicing for a blessing and firm in bearing the trials of domestic living. Union gives the family the strength to face and conquer challenges. Communion turns a family into a community wherein the pain and fun of one is the cry and laughter of all. So it is that there is nothing like a family in harmony and love – in the same way that there is nothing like a broken family in malaise and bitterness. And thus it is too that the sight of a Belen brought to the attention of all serves as a quasi living reminder for every family to live in love, stay firm, to remain one.
May every whole family show mercy and compassion towards any broken family.