Nobody can harden their heart to a helpless and hungry new-born child in need of love and care. We respond to any such small yet perfect creature, knowing instinctively that it needs to be held, nourished and protected. Like the birth of any human child, it is easy to see how the Feast of Christmas opens up to us in an instant with the birth of Jesus.
And yet a tension of opposites comes with the birth of that particular baby: The Gospels tell us that, like us, Jesus is human. But he is also the Son of God. Present in this helpless child is Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth. The great majesty of God made manifest in a small human being. From the moment God becomes Man, the Old Testament ban against portraying God is overturned. In Jesus, God makes himself visible, he becomes flesh.
Art and Tradition of the Crib in Italy
Jesus and his birth in Bethlehem have been portrayed innumerably often in new and various ways. A nativity scene or crib consists of statues not only of the baby Jesus but also of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, shepherds and their sheep, angels, the wise men, an ox and an ass. In fact, many Italian cribs depict the entire town of Bethlehem, its houses, people, animals and all. Jesus is born among the people.
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