More than one author has pointed out the affinities between the crib, the cross, the tabernacle. This trio summarises what is most dear to us in our Catholic faith.
In each of them we contemplate a number of virtues which our blessed Saviour has portrayed for us. Let’s limit ourselves today to three of them.
Poverty. The poverty of the crib confounds us; it leaves us perplex; we do not understand. Poor, yes. But destitute? Ignored by men, yes, but sub-human living conditions? When we pass over to the cross, our fears at the crib are confirmed. To die deprived of friends, of clothing, of reputation, the worst of criminals. Is it possible to go further? In the tabernacle, the Lord has found a way of living even greater poverty. He is no longer free of any of his movements. He is totally at the command of the priest who calls Him down and moves Him around.
Silence. In the crib, the Eternal Word falls silent. He whose command created all things and keeps them in existence has not a word. We can only kneel down and adore in silence the silent Word. On the cross, the Word will speak, but with few words, words that forgive, entrust, give hope. But in the Eucharist, once again, the silence of eternity enters our world. There, in the tabernacle, whatever noise might be going on around Him, He remains in the deepest silence, and draws us to Himself.
Love. Who is not moved by a newborn babe? God comes to us defenceless, inviting us to embrace Him and to receive His love. On Calvary, His outstretched arms speak volumes about the extent of his love for us. In the tabernacle, His continual presence is a prod, a plea to let ourselves be loved and to love in return.
As we celebrate the Saviour’s birthday, let us ask Him to share with us these three virtues, to teach us to imitate His poverty, His silence, and above all His love.