Madonna House

Born in Poverty

by Catherine Doherty

Once again we are plunged into the incredible mystery of the birth of Christ!

One thing becomes very clear or should become very clear to all of us who profess the Christian faith—he was born in poverty. The whole gospel story of his birth presents to us this mystery.

The long trip from Nazareth. The rejection of the innkeeper. The birth in a stable. This triptych or three-fold mystery shakes us, or does it?

We are really talking about the Son of God. We are talking about a love that surpasses all understanding. We are talking about a long pilgrimage, a rejection, and poverty.

Yes, once again we are plunged in the mystery of Christ’s birth. Does it tell us what it should—that we should arise and go on a pilgrimage, but go as pilgrims. Pilgrims do not have too many possessions.

Isn’t this the moment to examine our consciences about our possessions lest we be too heavily laden to reach our goal which is the heart of the Father?

Are we ready to accept the rejections that life will deal us, for if we have the key to that strange stable, that spiritual key, we will understand that even before Christ came from the womb of his mother, he was rejected by the world, prefiguring his ultimate rejection by the world that culminated in his crucifixion.

Will we understand this, this Christmas, when all around us all values crumble, and history moves like greased lightning telling us that it is time to change our life style. Change it radically. Change it inwardly. Change it outwardly.

For a stable spells poverty, not only of goods but the recognition of one’s own poverty and weakness, and hence the total reliance and surrender to God allowing ourselves to become a child holding on to the hand of his father.

Yes the three-fold mystery of Christmas enfolds us. “Lord give me the heart of a child and the incredible courage to live it out as an adult.”

—Excerpted from the column, “Where Love Is, God Is,” Restoration, December 1975