25 December 2006

Yahweh in a manger...

... no crib for his bed.

Oh, away! I thought you said Yahweh! Well, my version makes more sense.* Chesterton, as always, puts it well:
A mass of legend and literature, which increases and will never end, has repeated and rung the changes on that single paradox; that the hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle. Upon this paradox, we might almost say upon this jest, all the literature of our faith is founded. It is at least like a jest in this, that it is something which the scientific critic cannot see. He laboriously explains the difficulty which we have always defiantly and almost derisively exaggerated; and mildly condemns as improbable something that we have almost madly exalted as incredible; as something that would be much too good to be true, except that it is true. When that contrast between the cosmic creation and the little local infancy has been repeated, reiterated, underlined, emphasised, exulted in, sung, shouted, roared, not to say howled, in a hundred thousand hymns, carols, rhymes, rituals, pictures, poems, and popular sermons, it may be suggested that we hardly need a higher critic to draw our attention to something a little odd about it; especially one of the sort that seems to take a long time to see a joke, even his own joke.
It's a safe bet that at half twelve mass at Ballyfermot this morning Father Ryan will have pointed over to the crib on his left - he'll have stepped away from the pulpit, and will be on the steps in front of the altar - and said that if you wanted to know why he was a Christian, or why he was a priest, he will add, humbly pointing out that that matters far less than being a Christian - then you needed to look no further than that. No further than the maker of us all become flesh, become a tiny, helpless, baby.

He says it every year. I guess if you're going to repeat a homily, it might as well be that one.

Happy Christmas.

*As does Billy Connolly, with his 'a wain in a manger...'

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