by Antonio Caschetto | Dec 23, 2021 | Blog, News and Updates, Prayer | 0 comments
After this walk, here we are in front of the cave of Bethlehem! And today we find John’s prologue to illuminate this humble space and to make us understand its mystery. A decidedly demanding text, sometimes difficult to understand. Moreover, today’s scene is difficult to understand: God, in his immensity, has chosen to strip himself of himself, to assume the human nature, and we have not even given him accommodation in an inn!
The prologue introduces us to the protagonist of the gospel: the word. It is a hymn to the word, a wonderful poem! What’s better than a poem, to describe beauty, to describe fullness?
In the hymn the Word is presented in its relationship with God, in its relationship with creation, in its relationship with history, until the word becomes flesh, when we see God face to face, as in front of this manger rich in sweetness and mystery. What is the word? If we think about it, the word is what gives existence to humanity. Without words, we do not exist, he does not relate, he does not live.
What it is in the beginning is also what will be found at the end, what awaits us. In the beginning, indeed, before the beginning there was no chaos or confusion. In the beginning there was no action, there was no fate. In the beginning it was “the word”. The term word comes from “paraballo”, that is “to throw out”; with the word, we throw out, we expose ourselves, we offer ourselves, we come out of ourselves. We are a word exposed and listened to, answered. God himself is word, freedom, communication, love. Whoever speaks does not say things, but he says himself, if he is telling the truth. In fact, when two persons don’t talk anymore, it’s a disaster. God is word, is gift.
To say that in the beginning it was the word also indicates that in the destiny of humanity there is the word. This word, however, can be a lie. For this reason Francis, who was the first to perceive the beauty of representing it “living” in this cave, in the Canticle highlights the risk of the word, a source of lies to praise God, and prefers the use of all creation to the use of the word. Praising God through creation, at least there is no risk of being hypocritical, false.
Regarding creation, a Hebrew account says that the world was created with the letters of the alphabet: a very clever way of saying that the world is intelligible, understandable. For this reason, for the Jews, the world “dominates” itself by giving names to things, using words. Everything happens through the word.
God said, creating everything, the light, the sky, the day, the night, the waters. When he creates us, he creates the ones who know how to read creation. How we are forgetting this gift of reading creation! If there is good music and nobody listens to it, this music is not good, it doesn’t even make sense. Thus, we risk treating all the beauty of creation emptying it of meaning with our indifference.
How many beautiful sunsets have we missed, with our eyes turned to televisions or cell phones? How many spectacular starry skies! Creation is an objective word, man through the word divinizes, interprets creation, finds a sense in it, seeks the signature of the Creator. Only us perform this task. But it happens that the light, which illuminates the world from this cave, is not welcomed by the darkness. In the world there is a fear, a lie, which does not get the word. To grasp means to understand, but also to imprison. Darkness cannot understand light, but neither can suffocate it. With this double meaning, value is given to the humility of this cave, to the drama of a God who is born, but who is not recognized by humanity. We will pause our gaze on the second part of the prologue next Sunday, the first Sunday of the new year, which will be accompanied by the same passages from the Gospel.
The most beautiful wish this Christmas is to contemplate this scene from Bethlehem with the gaze of Saint Clare of Assisi, who said: “Place your eyes in front of the mirror of eternity, place your soul in the splendor of glory, place your heart in the One who is the figure of the divine substance, and transformed entirely through contemplation, into the image of the divinity of Him” (FF 2888).
In this word our destiny is at stake, in the light of this word we can understand all the beauty of what happened in the manger of Bethlehem, and perhaps our Christmas, in our encounter at the end of this journey of search in these weeks, takes on a sweeter taste.
We warmly wish you a Merry Christmas of the Lord!
Antonio Caschetto is the Italy Programs Coordinator for Italy for the Laudato Si’ Movement. He is an architect and also a member of the movement’s eco-spirituality team, and he regularly leads pilgrims in retreats in the Franciscan sanctuaries of Assisi, where he lives with his wonderful wife, Angelica, their two beautiful sons, Francesco and Emanuele, and their Spinone dog, Jumpy.