“Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple Shepherds were the first witnesses to this event.” (CCC n. 525, p. 129, 1997)
“Christmas” is truly a “Mystery” – something profound and wonderful, something awesome and unfathomable. Yet, pointing out such a truth and reality remains an understatement, remains undecipherable. Still, the following is understandable: Christmas means the birth of Christ. But what comes next is a mystery as deep as a mystery can be: Christ is God – the Son of God and the Child of Mary. But Mary is a member of humanity. How could she give birth to a Divinity. Mary is immaculate. How could she ever conceive and have a Child? More: How could the Child “Jesus” have a woman as his Mother and have God as his Father?
More. How could certain truths be that complicated: God becoming Man in the Person of Christ. Christ, the Son of God and the Author of Life, condemned and killed. More. He died and rose from the dead. To heaven He thereafter ascended such that even His mother was subsequently assumed into heaven. And here we are celebrating Christmas as a matter of fact. Singing Christmas songs, exchanging gifts, greeting one another “Merry Christmas!”, savoring the joy of family bonding, enjoying the occasion with friends, being happy before, during and after Christmas. Strange but true: A most profound Mystery becomes a matter of fact, a compound complex profundity enters the world of simple realities.
And more. How could Jesus the Son of God Who is the Creator of the universe as a whole, be allowed to be born in a “humble stable”? How could He be born but in a “poor family”? How come there were but “simple shepherds” as the witnesses to His birth? These are the perfect examples of contrasts such as black and white, high and low, common and extraordinary. His Father made the whole wide world but Jesus was born in a manger which is made for animals. His Father owns everything on earth, in the sea and in the skies but Jesus was born in a poor family. Jesus is the Son of God, the Redeemer of humanity, the Savior of mankind but He had but poor shepherds as witnesses to His birth.
But then, come to think of it. There are also a good number of mysteries about man, i.e., a creature who has a beginning and an ending, who is now here and then gone, who is thus thought of and eventually forgotten. Why is it that the rich never have enough but the poor have less than what they need? Why is it that the already powerful still crave for more power and the powerless become more helpless? Why do certain individuals think and live as if they are forever when they eventually pass away and remain forgotten? It can be said that all such flagrant contradictions – and there are more – can also be placed in the realm of mysteries of one kind or another specially in this ever wanting Country, ever needy people. And this is not funny but fatal and wherefore not acceptable but detestable. So it is that perhaps – just perhaps – the Filipinos have an inkling of what is the Christmas Mystery as they contemplate their own mystery of miseries.