This coming Christmas is different from the others. It is the Christmas of pain and fear. The pain for loved ones who have died due to the virus and the fear that prevents us from being together in large and festive gatherings. Nonetheless, Christmas sheds light on this darkness. God comes to us and brings us all kinds of hope: from healing illnesses to happy eternal life, together with the consolation of loving one another, as the gifts we bring to us testify. I propose again some considerations I wrote last year because they are useful to me and also, I hope, to the reader:
The custom of preparing the crib is spread all over the world, but finds its special roots in Naples. Edoardo De Filippo wrote a tender comedy that many know, Christmas in the Cupiello house, in which two worlds confront each other. That of the elderly Lucariello made of traditions, of family union even in the midst of the inevitable harshness derived from living together (the spoiled and spiteful son who says: "I don't like it or crib”) And, in contrast, the modern world in which new needs for selfish happiness are stirred up that generate betrayals and family fractures. Lucariello (although a means of small contrasts with his wife who does not know how to make coffee but remains the queen of the onion omelette) is intent on preparing his nativity scene with commitment, while a tragedy unfolds around which he does not realize: the daughter wants to screw up the marriage and wants to live with her lover, generating terrible tensions. When Lucariello finally realizes the drama around him, he dies. His reckless son consoles him, who finally admits: "like me 'or crib".
I would like to reiterate that "I like it or the crib" too.
I like Christmas and I don't find it a paganized party at all: in the meantime it continues to be called Christmas, which means that someone has been born. It is up to our faith to believe that this someone is God in person: a faith that is always missing, even mine, for which I cannot complain; I can pray instead.
When trying to write the European constitution there were those who refused to refer to the Christian roots of Europe. Andreotti without confusion observed that, however, the date had to be put, and the date marks the years that separate us from the Christmas of Jesus ...
Many lights represent the continuity with the light that "enveloped the shepherds" (Luke 2,9) and with the light of the star that guided the Magi. Therefore, when I see the streets illuminated with particular decorations or the Rinascente palace with a cascade of lights, I think that those lights are the continuation of the lights that attract the shepherds and guide the Magi: they are not there by chance.
Everyone, shepherds and Magi, bring gifts and we exchange gifts for this. The custom of giving gifts comes from there: we exchange them among ourselves but in reality they are a tribute to the love of the Child. Exchanging gifts is the maximum of the party, it means that we return to our original vocation of love.
The Magi are constant and determined until they reach the goal, the shepherds go "without delay" as Saint Luke says (2,9), that is in a hurry, just as Maria had gone to find her cousin Elizabeth. This determination and this haste teach me what really matters.
I lived ten beautiful years in Milan and I remember that the most used verb was and is: "run away". I have to run". But where do I run? And what am I running from? Here: the shepherds, the Magi and Mary make me understand what the real haste tends to: what is really worth. Too many times I feel the need to run or distract or have fun: all verbs that allude to detachment from what is around me. Christmas teaches me to see the depth of things, the meaning to which facts and situations allude. The Child is not just a child, gifts are not objects: they are a reflection of my heart; the lights are what should illuminate my distracted mind.
As the Pope observes, the representation of ordinary life scenes in the crib also recalls the divine hidden in my everyday life that I must notice. Above all, the Neapolitan cribs are full of taverns, merchandise, scenes of country life, men playing cards, housewives inside the houses that deal with chores, lights that show the very accurate interior of the apartments, superabundant grocery stores, bridges, waterfalls . They are not an escape from what happens in the holy cave but indicate how everyday life is contemporary with the divine, it is not foreign to him.
In turn, the characters surrounding the cave are a lesson for me. They do not think of themselves but emit radiation of love starting with Mary and Joseph. Even the classic character of Benino, the sleeping shepherd, reminds me of my inability to notice the greatness of God's designs and urges me to wake up.
Welcome to the Christmas of a God placed in a manger who asks only for my attention.
I like Christmas and "I like 'or nativity scene".