Manger calls for love
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
When Saint Luke the Evangelist narrates that Mary laid little Jesus in a manger (cf. 2:7.12.16) we can see that the place changed from a place to feed animals into a little bed, a cradle. The cold and empty manger gets warm, embraces the Holy Infant and becomes a new place. And we look at it from a different perspective. We do not utter 'manger' but 'little manger' since it belonged to the Child and was connected with the most beautiful and most tender love. We would like this manger to warm our churches and meeting places, to make the story that happened 2,000 years ago evident to us, creating mood to reflect on the truth about man. The newly born Babe makes us look differently at the surrounding world and also at the child - a being who is most defenceless and trustful and who awaits for adults' help.
On the occasion of Christmas it is worth looking at our Polish children. We can see that they are often intelligent but in order to grow they need people's smile and love. However, this is more difficult than material means. Contemporary parents, trying to provide for their families, forget what is most important in children's upbringing. But a child needs 'a heartfelt climate'. A child clings to its parents' love and love of other family members. It wants authentic love, not love for show. How much joy we have to see children running towards us and stretching out their hands to cuddle up to us! But let us see how much disappointment and pain there is in a child who is hurt by adults. A child is a human being that is authentically defenceless and weak, and it needs tenderness and care. So we are really devastated to hear how uncaring mothers, fathers or other grown-ups can harass small beings in a physical and psychological way.
We cannot be silent but must remind people when we think about little Jesus, when we are immersed in a family atmosphere, at the table, sharing the wafer, when we say wishes...At the birth of Jesus we think about these children who have no families, who are hungry, who are afraid or feel that they are obstacles for their parents' plans. Jesus in his Bethlehem manger, Jesus whom we visit in our churches, reminds us of the biggest respect that all people, especially these defenceless human beings who cannot fight for their rights, deserve. Therefore, we should appeal to the most human feelings and remind all people, particularly parents, that a child is not a thing, not someone's property but it deserves human rights. We are also in favour of increasing legal discipline for all those who hurt children. We must do our best to make every child feel loved and thus have the best possible conditions for growth. Furthermore, we must defend children against all kinds of pathological phenomena that do them harm.
Every Catholic, every Christian, should remember how Jesus loved children, how he showed them as examples of trust, defencelessness and dedication, which adults often lack and what - seemingly so delicate and fragile - is the most important element to build the kingdom of God. Let us recollect the picture of our beloved Holy Father John Paul II who lovingly held a child and, with admiration and disbelief, stared at this miracle of the Creator.
May the manger of Bethlehem, which we visit so eagerly, challenge us with the question whether a manger of our home is not empty. Since there are couples who could conceive children but have rejected this fundamental family task. The manger calls for children, the manger calls for love. Our Polish home should always be full of family noise, warmth and love.