Christmas Spirit --- The Spirit in Christ's Manger

Today is the day when God became physically visible to mankind, became the Son of Man named Jesus.  And we call this day Christmas Day.

Last night, at the Holy Mass of Christmas Eve, our parish priest shared his experience of seeing the actual manger in Israel where Jesus was born.  His sharing was so sincere that when he said that it made him cry seeing that manger, it almost made me cry too.  Can you imagine having your child born in a stinking place where horses rest and eat?  How would you feel having your most loved person give birth there, if you are a husband?  How should one feel having a God who is the creator of all the entire universe and yet chose to become human and be born in a manger? Makes you think, right?

A stone manger in Israel.  This was used to put animal feed for the farm animals.  This may have been the kind of manger that Jesus was put in as an infant.  Scripture: Luke 2:7-16.
Made me think.  I've always known the manger to be that humble.  But to be stinky?  I think I missed that one.

Suddently, a thought came over me.  I always pass by  this beggar-looking man near our church each time I hear a Holy Mass.  He doesn't beg, he just looks that way: dirty.  A squatter.  Made me wonder, could he be that stinky as a manger?  Maybe smelling him could be the closest I could get to smelling the manger of my Lord Jesus.

Not a bad thought.  Now, I can make Christmas Day an alibi to befriend him.  I've always wondered what's on his mind, what could matter to him at this point in his life, stuff like that.  Now, I still can't do that but at least, I can have a starting point.

So, excitedly, I packed 2 dishes and made sure the substandard one is redone to make it special.  I  shared the thought to my 9-year old niece and she welcomed the idea cheerfully.  She even volunteered to buy him a bottled juice from her own pocket.  (I thought  that  kids should see their family do concrete acts of love to strangers so it would not be that strange for them to do the same when they grow up.) So we waited for the twilight---just so we don't get intimidated by by-standers when talking to him.

His name is Felix.  Today, we saw him sitting on the same stone along the street, but now with the blue bag my 8-year old nephew handed him yesterday---packed with "body care kit".  (We wanted to make sure then that he could change and maybe find a public bathing place so he could have a tidy appearance on Christmas, at least.)

So, we immediately said hi to him and called him by "Kuya (Big brother) Felix" . HE SMILED immediately.  Somehow, that smile did not leave my memory even as I write this.  He made it so easy for me and my niece to "feel at ease" with him immediately.  And so I started a conversation without hesitation.  He was so normal that right then and there, I see us building friendship in the future.  I asked where he stays and he immediately pointed to just right across the street:  a warehouse of sacks of something.  I invited him to eat his food there instead and he immediately stood up and  walked us there.   Its an open gate with a chair next to it.  We had a nice casual conversation.  We made sure he was eating it before we left. 

Right after we left, I was observing myself for a couple of minutes.  Some people say they feel a  certain "rush" when they do acts of charity.  What a sigh of relief that I didn't feel it at all.   Am afraid that if I do feel the rush, then that means that the act of kindness to a stranger is not yet incorporated in my very system like a foreign matter lurking in my blood and that would be a very very sad situation.

Did I achieve my first objective?  Did I get close to smelling the manger of my Lord? NO. He had no smell at all!  Whew! He must have already taken a bath using the body care kit my niece gave him! Hmmm.  Wrong planning for us, I guess. Hahaha

I was a bit bummed not being able to smell something close to a manger's smell.  But hey.  Kuya Felix showed me where he's squatting--- which is like his own manger:  an open storage of hundreds of sacks of I don't know what owned by I don't know who.  

I take Kuya Felix' place as the modern-day manger in our own small town.

Its Christmas day.  I pray that other people will create an opportunity to realize Christ's manger in others' lives.

In Christ's manger, there is the Spirit of Absolute Love for the Poor.  The Spirit of Absolute Humility. The Spirit of Absolute Self-giving.

Today, I am privileged to feel that Spirit.  Happy Birthday, my Lord and my God.

Our Parish's Nativity

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