It’s Easy to Forget

Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem

Detail from the left panel of the Potinari Altarpiece, Hugo van der Goes (c. 1440- 82)

The Virgin, weighed with the Word of God, comes down the road: if only you will shelter her. —St. John of the Cross

I was looking for something to write about St. John of the Cross when I stumbled across this quote, taken—in all probability—from a longer Advent hymn he composed for his fellow friars. It is the perfect mindset to hold as we journey metaphorically toward Bethlehem.

It’s easy to forget in a secular season so given over to consumption, just how poor the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph were when they travelled to Bethlehem, or how destitute the setting was for the birth of the King of Kings. He wasn’t born in a palace, or, as most of us are today, in a hospital. He wasn’t even born at home, like almost everyone was in his time. He was born in a stable that according to Orthodox tradition was really a cave used to bed livestock. Even the humble little wooden barn found in most modern nativity sets is a step up from Jesus’ birthplace.

It’s easy to forget that there are still many people in the world as poor as the Holy Family were, and even in our own country some people whose relative poverty—campared to the surronding society—at least matches theirs. Homeless families that wander our streets daily seeking shelter.

It’s easy to forget, when most of us are struggling to make ends meet with a little left over to give our kids a Christmas they can enjoy, that some families can’t manage much more than to keep their kids fed, and sometimes have to skip a meal themselves to do so.

It’s easy to forget, but I’m trying to remember.

Today’s Advent selection is also based on the words of St. John of the Cross (via YouTube):

December 14

 Advent calendar graphics by Oh My Gluestick. They are intended for personal use only and may not be used commercially.

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