“A piece of paper or other material that gives you information about the object that it is fixed to.”
This is the definition of a label — and it’s got me looking at our nativity scene, and our world, in a whole new way. I never gave it much thought before, but there’s one crucial element to this peaceful scene — something that’s missing — that actually speaks louder than all that is there and visible.
The baby in the makeshift crib? He didn’t come with a label. He came with a purpose, a destiny, a gift and a name, but no label. This is good news. It means this baby doesn’t belong to any one of us — He belongs to all of us. Young, old, naughty and nice. Rich, poor, those that seem to have it all figured out and those stumbling with every step and yes, Democrat, Republican, and even Independent.
This baby, and the promise His life embodies, belongs to people of every religion, race and culture. His love spans every border, whether of the heart or those made with bricks and mortar. The stark contrast between visitors to the stable that evening speaks volumes to the purpose for this child with no label. There were shepherds and wise men — poor laborers and men of wealth and wisdom — those dismissed and those held in high regard. The curious shepherd boy, the towns people too busy to notice, and those intrigued just enough to sneak a glance as they walked by — each and every one. It’s good news, it’s worth celebrating, and it’s what this season is all about.
All too often, Catholics are found to be more alienating than welcoming, walking this earth as if we have the right to label the Christ child as our own. I was particularly struck by our failings in this area recently while reading an article about the popular Christian singer, Lauren Daigle, and her appearance on the “Ellen” show. Daigle received some backlash from Christians, angry that she would agree to appear on the show when Ellen is a lesbian. I must be missing something here. A woman who has 4.2 million viewers tuned in each day asks a Christian singer to come on her show and Christians are complaining? Where is the celebration in the incredible opportunity to evangelize and share the heart of God?
I personally think Daigle’s response to the criticism was perfect. She notes, “I think the second we start drawing lines around which people are able to be approached and which aren’t, we’ve already completely missed the heart of God.” I just love this. It truly speaks to the freedom each one of us should feel in reserving judgement for the One who is all-knowing. We should celebrate our role of simply loving our neighbor, showing them God’s love, and handing over all the rest to the perfect heart of God.
One of my all-time favorite Christmas songs is “The Nativity” by Lee Ann Womack. This beautiful season of Advent is our opportunity to sit before the manager and really ponder the questions posed in this unique song, asking God for help in showing others who this baby really is.
Copyright 2018 Nicole Johnson