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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

刊登日期: 2013.12.15
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  

 
 Last week we looked at preparation during Advent with the empty crib. The next couple of weeks have to do with filling the crib. Mary and Joseph will arrive at Bethlehem. There will not be room in the inn for them. 
The Census. 
The king of the world, Caesar Augustus, proclaims a census to find out how many people are his subjects. The whole Roman world is on the move at the whim of the emperor. He has the world at his fingertips. “This is all MINE!” In the midst of all this is the King of Kings. Even before He is born, the world is manipulated as if He does not exist. 
Sometimes, when we pray, we act as if God has to do our bidding. We want to know how much we own. We want to be secure in material possessions. “Dear God, make me feel safe with the things I want.” Even the decision to go to Church depends on whether we can fit Him into our busyness and our schedule. Sometimes, God has to fend for Himself. We have no room in our lives for Him. 
But Christmas is about reprioritizing our lives for the King. Who would we choose, the world or Him? 
Bethlehem 
It is the City of David. Joseph brings Mary to his ancestral home for the census. This fulfills the prophecy that the child to be born is the Son of David. 
The name Bethlehem actually means house of bread. It is ironic that the one to be born will become the Bread of Life. At the temptation, Jesus told the devil that“one does not live on bread alone but on the Word of God.”(Mt. 4:4). Yet He is both the Word and the Bread. 
In this connection, the Church, in the concluding paragraph 26 of the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation(《天主的啟示教義憲章》), reminds us that “just as the life of the Church is strengthened through more frequent celebration of the Eucharistic mystery, similarly we may hope for a new stimulus for the life of the Spirit from a growing reverence for the word of God, which lasts forever.” 
Jesus is both the Word and the Bread. He feeds us in the reading of Scripture and in the Eucharist. We as Catholics need to have a desire to know His Word and receive Him in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus even urges us to ask the Father to“give us this day our daily bread.” (Mt 6:11) 
We are the Bethlehem that houses Him in Word and Bread. Do we have room for Him ? 
The Creche. 
St. Francis of Assisi introduced the manger into the Church’s devotional life. St. Bonaventure wrote:“St. Francis stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem.”St. Francis, known for his poverty, invites us to come humbly to the Babe of Bethlehem. Jesus was not born in a royal palace. He, the King of Kings, was not surrounded by the richness of this world. Even the magi looked falsely for Him at the palace of Herod. 
Jesus came to us in a shabby barn. He does not mind our shabbiness. He will fill us with His Presence. We have to be humble enough to open our shabby heart to Him. 

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