A CRIB OF LOVE
FR. RYSZARD KOPER
Maybe a mother with her son will stand at the same crib one day and will thank God with tears in their eyes for the ‘crib of love’, which saved her child from death, freed her from remorse, reminding about the loss for ever...
The Thanksgiving Day in the United States, similarly as the Polish Christmas Eve, gathers whole families for a solemn feast. In most cases the head of the family, at a fully set table, a roasted turkey, and other dishes specially prepared for this day, addresses a prayer to God. Streets of cities are full of colourful parades, less reminding about thanksgiving to God but more about feast presents, which stop pedestrians at shop windows with their suggestive shouts. In New York the parade of the Thanksgiving Day is organized by a known Macy shops chain. This parade is impressive. Fairy characters are even as tall as a few-floor building. The parade is usually closed by Santa Claus surrounded by reindeers and other characters of a wintery picture. Santa Claus reminds us about presents which are waiting in shops to be bought. Real, Christmas presentation of the person of Santa Claus, we will, however, find on the website Catholicscomehome.org.
Santa Claus, like the one from the thanksgiving parade, goes in a sleigh and greets people, giving them presents, and, first of all, calls them for joy. At one moment he stops his sleigh, gets out of them and sets off on foot to fulfill his most important mission. Among happy street at Christmas, he is going to the Bethlehem crib. He takes off his hat, kneels at the crib, in which Baby Jesus is and speaks to everybody: ‘Come home, here Love was born’. The beautiful Christmas reflection: we must get through the pre-Christmas and Christmas chaos, come back ‘home’ and kneel before Love which will fulfill our hearts with peace and joy, as well as our families and our houses decorated for Christmas.
Christmas exchange of love
Call for return ‘home’ is heard in New York churches not only through the advent liturgy, but also through significant decorations which appear soon after the Thanksgiving Day in the beginning of Advent. One of elements of church decoration at this time are the so-called cribs of love. The Christmas crib, before the little figure of Baby Jesus is laid in it, becomes a place of Christmas exchange of love. Cards with a list of things needed by particular people are also put into the beautifully decorated crib. Believers take these cards, buy mentioned things and bring them to church, and volunteers give them away to those who need them. Thanks to these donations, many poor people can spend Christmas in a joyful way, and also being invited to the feast, although no table will replace joy which comes from awareness that God embraces us with His love, sending good and friendly people to us when we are in very difficult situations.
This year the ‘crib of love’ has been prepared also in the church under invocation of Baby Jesus in Richmond Hill in New York. This crib became popular not only in this city, but also all over the United States – in respect of an unordinary gift which was put there. On Monday 23 November at 1 p.m., during tidying-up the church, a church caretaker heard a baby cry. Surprised, he started looking around for it. The cry was coming from the Bethlehem crib. He came up there and could not believe his eyes. In the crib there was a newly-born baby wrapped up in a purple towel. As it turned out later, the baby still had an uncut off umbilical cord. It was a boy. The church caretaker said: - Whoever left this baby, brought him into a safe place, and did not let the baby die. Whereas Fr. Christopher Heanue commented it in this way: - ‘God’s paths are not discovered. The baby’s mother must have been in a very difficult situation. However, in this crib, where in a few weeks, we will lay Baby Jesus, she found a safe home for her son. This baby is a wonderful gift for our church.
The spokeswoman of the diocese Brooklyn-Queens Rocio Fidalgo said: - Despair, through which that woman had to go through, is improbable for us. She left her baby in the crib where Jesus was born, she wanted the boy be close to Him. During the first Holy Mass, after finding the baby, Fr. Heanue said about him: - Our little Jan the Baptist preceded four weeks Baby Jesus, whereas parishioners call the boy with great joy: ‘Baby Jesus’. Many of them want to adopt the baby, who, as legal procedures require, was taken first – despite being healthy – to hospital.
Let’s defend ‘windows of life’
The above story, despite a kind of tragic situation, can be a beautiful Christmas eve story about saving love which we find in the Bethlehem crib. It is where the little boy’s life was saved, and his mother was saved from a tragedy of killing her baby. God’s plans are unsearchable. Maybe the mother will stand with her son at the same crib and will thank God with tears in her eyes for the ‘crib of love’ which saved her son from death and her from remorse reminding about the loss for ever. The mother’s behavour shows that it may happen so. Cameras registered that two hours after leaving her baby the mother returned in order to check whether the baby was safe. Law gives her 60 days for taking back her baby.
‘Cribs of love’ in New York remind of Polish ‘windows of life’ which are endangered now. The danger comes from New York, from a skyscraper which draws pedestrians’ attention with its appearance of a bar of chocolate. This is the UNO building. As we know, the Committee of Child’s Rights UNO calls Poland to liquidate the ‘windows of life’. Hope appearing in the lights of the Bethlehem crib not only fills us with joy but also gives us certainty that surrounded by the Bethlehem brightness, we will find power in order to counteract all kinds of evil, including closing down the ‘windows of life’. The light of the Bethlehem star comes to us through it, thanks to which we can enjoy the beauty of earthly life and hope for happy eternity.