Jesus Born in a Pushcart. Reflections No 517, 22 December 2010
Jesus Born in a Push Cart
(republishing, copying, no restrictions)
By: Father Shay Cullen
God allowed Jesus to be born into poverty because he didn't want people to think that they needed to be rich in order to do great things and be called to do something that will change the world. "
She was only twelve years old or so, and the child she was carrying was exhausting her. The diesel fumes of the growling vehicles impatiently waiting at the traffic lights choked her and left a smear of soot over her sweat-streaked face. She wore a dirty red dress and with bare arms and feet. I gave her a 200 pesos bill and a candy bar when she knocked on the window of the taxi I was in. A pitifully small Christmas gift I knew, but something valuable to her, as her eyes lit up and a big smile crossed her face and she hugged the baby in her arms. Her pleading eyes and open hand was too much to ignore. She got nothing from the other vehicles she approached before reaching me.
The lights changed to green and she scurried to the side of the pavement with her precious burden. Her adult handler hurried up to snatch the money from her hand but she ran still holding the baby. She twisted nimbly in and out of the moving traffic and made her escape. She was a brave girl to go against the begging syndicate, a fighter, I thought.
A week later at noon on Christmas Eve, I went to the big church overlooking Manila Bay and sat in the cool semi-darkness to escape the humidity of the tropical heat. I saw that same little girl in the red dress sitting alone in front of the nativity scene. She stood up to leave and I called her over and asked her in Filipino. “What is you name?”, "Anita”, she replied. "Why did you come here today?” I asked. Without hesitation she answered “to visit the baby Jesus, he is one of us”.
Later, I met her parents and her five brothers and two sisters. Their home was a wooden push cart. They lived on the street near the Manila Zoo. The animals had it better. Ever since then, my image of Christmas is Jesus as a ragged street child, born in a push cart.
Christmas should be all about Jesus of Nazareth. He was born into poverty, hunted by a cruel dictator, became a child migrant and a refugee. His mother was an unmarried teenager and Joseph, his adopting father was too poor to rent a room for his birth. He had a tough start in life, he was a street child born in a push cart you could say.
Yet he transformed the world with his simple message and wisdom, and example of love and service to the poor and the needy. He brought life-changing values into a cruel and brutal world. He became an innocent victim of injustice and was condemned to be crucified as a criminal and yet today he is loved and revered and followed by millions of Christians and respected by millions more who are non-Christians.
He taught us by example the highest form of love - dedicated and unselfish caring for others without expecting anything in return. Loving the outcasts, because they are outcasts and dying to defend them as friends is the greatest love of all. He brought to prominence the dignity and importance of women and children and human rights.
Was he a spiritual revolutionary? A charismatic political activist? A true Son of Man and Son of God? Perhaps all of these and much more. He gave us a spiritual life based on human dignity, one that stands for the rights of the homeless, the unemployed, the oppressed, the landless, the victims of abuse and human rights violations and he challenged us to follow his lead or not. Most people sadly choose not to, others never heard of him or know how to love anyone but themselves. These values have not always been respected and upheld, but at times gravely violated, by organized religion itself. Today, they are respected by some but tragically denied, crushed and violated in lawless oppressive undemocratic nations.
Jesus of Nazareth, a charismatic and prophetic figure took his stand with his sermon on the mount and carried it all the way to his death on the cross. He lived and died for these eternal universal values. He was truly the Son of a lovable God born in a push cart, as it were.