Each time Christmas comes, we arrive before the crib to visit the Child Jesus. The Child Jesus is the Word of God. The loving God wants to speak to humankind. The Child Jesus does not have His voice yet. But He himself and His life is the Word which God speaks to humanity. From the stable in Bethlehem, the Child Jesus is talking to us. Let’s listen to His quiet voice.

In the Bethlehem stable, the Child Jesus is staying with animals. He becomes the poorest among the human race. Born homeless, He is speaking on behalf of the poor. Today many a family is still wandering without a home. Many a child is still born in the street. Many a human life still lives a toiling dark suffering life in a slum not unlike an animal stable. Those persons embody the Lord Child Jesus and are questioning us on justice and charity.

In the Bethlehem stable, the Child Jesus is freezing in the cold weather. Without any blanket and mosquito-net, lying on the manger, He is speaking on behalf of the victims of natural disasters and human disasters. The recent flood has flown away so many lives. Some parents who are bread-winners in the family have been washed away by the fatal flow when going to work. Some children in the adult age have lost their lives on the way to school. And in collapses of houses and bridges, and traffic accidents, so many families have been in mourning, so many wives and their children have become helpless, and so many lives have found themselves in deadlocks. All these victims embody the Lord Child Jesus and are questioning us about our responsibilities and solidarity.

In the Bethlehem stable, the Child Jesus is being threatened to be killed by the cruel king Herod. Having just been born, He has to suffer oppression and injustice. To protect his throne, Herod does not hesitate to murder all the children in Bethlehem. As a victim of oppression and injustice, the Child Jesus is speaking on behalf of these victims. Today many a child is not allowed to cry his first cry. Many a child is deprived of his right to live. Many a person is still under oppression and injustice. Many a person is under threat and violence by dark forces. Many an employee does not get properly paid. Many a man and many a woman get married to foreigners are not treated as husband and wife. Many a lowly voiceless person is oppressed and exploited. Many a unfair and wrong lawsuit has taken place. All these persons embody the Lord Child Jesus and are questioning us about human rights and the right to freedom and happiness.

Not only does Jesus speak on behalf of those victims, He also shares their woes. He has lived as a poor homeless guy, "having nowhere to rest his head" (Mt 8: 20). He accompanies victims of natural disasters when aboard a boat in a storm (cf. Mt 8: 23-26), He suffers from hunger and thirst beside a fig tree without finding any fruit (cf. Mk 11:12-14) and the disciples who follow Him have to pick the heads of grain and eat them (cf. Mt 12:1). He stands among the victims of injustice when under trial before the court of Pilate. Though innocent, He is sentenced to death while the robber Barabbas is declared not guilty (cf. Mt 27: 11-26).

In the stable and on the manger, the Child Jesus is speechless, but starts crying. Such cry questions our conscience. Such cry invites us to generously share with the hungry and the have not. Such cry lifts our heart to the respect for the dignity of our compatriots, the respect for human rights, the right to life and happiness of man.

But above all, Christmas gives us the joy to welcome the Savior. He does not come as a mandarin standoffish from the people, but as an intimate brother sharing our life. He is our companion in the very difficulties and hardships of our daily life. He gives us the great joy of having the blessedness to welcome God. He opens to us a horizon for hope when coming into the world in order for us to become children of God. Changing human fate, He clears the deadlocks of the human life, opening up the horizon of happiness in the Kingdom of God. Resolving once for all the issues of humans, He takes us out of the darkness, leading us to the source of bright light in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Lord the Child Jesus, I am thankful for Your limitless love. Kindly help me listen to Your voice in order that I can show interest, love, respect for and share with a Lord incarnate in my suffering poor brothers and sisters who are encountering disasters and being downtrodden.

+ Archbishop Ngo Quang Kiet
Translated by Paul Tam