The Organic Crib: Life in all forms and to its fullness
Fr Ricopar Royan SDB
23 December 2022
The birth of Jesus took place in a very modest setting. Under a shed in a manger filled with hay in the company of cattle. The starlight sky and chill in the air. Visit of the Magi from far away countries. The choirs of angels sang in joy and shepherds kept watch of the special day. Heavens came down and filled the earth. The setting is so humble but the assurance is abundance. The birth scene is an organic whole, filled with biotic and abiotic matters. There is not much order in the shed, it’s messy but peace, joy and harmony prevails among beings. Jesus’ coming brings strong message to all that only abundant love can spare the world.
The Creation is intrinsically good and has a purpose
God created the world and found it ‘very good’ (Gen: 1:31). Each creature possesses its own particular goodness, perfection and destiny. Nobody can neglect either respect for life or the fact that there is integrity in creation. The birth of Jesus reemphasizes this goodness of the material world. He preached within farming and fishing culture. His parables were salted with references to seeds and harvests, vineyards and weeds, rain and sunsets, boats and fishes, sheep and nesting birds. There is no place for tyrannical anthropocentrism, but mere acceptance of the benevolent gift of nature.
There is room for everyone in this Inn
Jesus is born right into the heart of the troubled world. Men and women are so preoccupied with the urgent need of occupying space and time for themselves. The richer they become, the more they fill up all the space in the world and no room for others – for humans, for animals, for plants and for all that are found in nature. We hear stories of extinction of rarest animals and plants and plundering of natural resources of mother earth. This is exactly opposite to the purpose of creation. The earth is ultimately a common heritage, the fruits of which are for the benefit of all. The greed and selfishness, both individual and collective, are contrary to the order of creation.
The birth of Jesus is a blow to this consumerist and tyrannical attitude of humans. There is place reserved for every species. Through his birth and teachings Jesus reaffirmed the unending providence of God. “Not one sparrow is forgotten in God’s sight” (Luke 12: 6). Job speaks that God provides for animals and even the land itself, “to cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; to satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth”(Job 38: 26,27). There is no such thing called waste in nature. There is room for everyone in this world, including the inanimate.
Survival of the Fittest to the Triumph of the Weakest
The rationale of Social Darwinism (now largely discredited) would say that the struggle for existence, with elimination of the weak and unfit, leads to the survival of the fittest and this eventually lead to higher animals, higher races and higher civilizations. It justifies the exploitation of the powerful over powerless.
Jesus birth overturns this reasoning. He chose to be born in a poorer environment and re-established the original right of all beings. He preferred and taught to be meek and humble, yet powerful and with realized dignity. He lived with the unfit and marginalized and empowered them to be believed that the world is theirs. “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).
Celebrating Christmas with Eco and Christmas Concerns
Christmas is a festival of involvement. Jesus gets involved in our lives. Look out for opportunities to get involved in the lives of the marginalized. Engage in atleast one ‘act of love’ that will substantially change the course of life of a person.
Show our children the crib and teach them that Christmas means vibrant earth with all species. We are not here to dominate but live side by side with other species and nature. It is a reciprocal relationship like the vine and the branches.
Shaping our life, the Christmas way in the coming year. Let us rework our daily/monthly/yearly budget, spend less on ourselves, use less of our earth resources and expend a meaningful amount for environment protection purposes.