The Reality of Christ’s Poverty

by Catherine Doherty

This is the month of Christ’s birthday. This is the month that the Son of God and the Son of Man was born in a cave.

Over the centuries, men and women have sentimentalized his birth. It is time for us Christians to take another look at this cave and at him who was born in it.

People who live in caves or give birth to children in caves are not the wealthy of this world. They are the poor. He, the Son of God, chose to be born in poverty. What does it mean to us moderns—this strange lesson of God’s birth?

Are our hearts filled with longing for him who loved us so much that he was born in a cave, died on a cross, and took upon himself the burden of our humanity and our sin?

Do we desire to follow him and to detach our hearts from all things that are not of him, in order to be poor, in spirit and in reality? Are we going to share with the hungry ones of the world, the replicas of the Child who had nowhere to lay his head, from our surplus? Or are we going to give of our necessity? Which is it going to be?

Will we give to those who have nothing, in memory of the Child who was also God and who was born in a cave for love of us?

Are we going to the cave like the shepherds, who were also poor? Or are we going to render once more, lip service to a Christ of our own making, whose cave we have embellished with clean straw? His probably stunk as old straw stinks in stables.

Adapted from Donkey Bells, (2000), pp. 23-24, available from MH Publications.