On Day 13 of our “Christmas Goodies”, we shall reflect on “The Christmas Animals”
WHAT IT IS?
The Christmas Animals play an important role in the celebrations of this joyful festival.
They also have a lot of religious symbolic meanings and significance
The animals, mainly form part of the Christmas Crib and their pictures can often be found in the Christmas greetings and decorations
WHAT ELEMENTS CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS CHRISTMAS GOODIE -“THE CHRISTMAS ANIMALS?”
- The inclusion of animals in the Christmas Fest is a reminder that Christmas is the beginning of a new creation
After the 6 days of creation, God found that “all was good” (Gen 1:31)
But sin marred the beauty of this creation -there was animosity among the creatures; human beings introduced animalistic abuses. The entire cosmos was in need of redemption
The Birth of Christ was the beginning of this Redemptive Act of God.
In this Redemptive Act, the presence and involvement of many animals- the donkey, the ox, the camels, the goat, the sheep etc – points to the fact that God wanted to renew this world completely and wholly
This was the beginning of the prophecy in Is 11:6 – ” The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them”), which will find its fulfilment in the world to come.
This was also the beginning of the promise of the Lord, “Behold, I make all things new” (Ref 21: 5)
2. The donkey (ass) and the ox find a special place in the Christmas story; marking the fulfilment of the prophecies of old.
The tradition of giving the donkey and ox a higher prominence probably comes from a text from the 8th century, where it says, “And on the third day after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, Mary went out of the cave, and, entering a stable, placed the child in a manger, and an ox and an ass adored him.” Then was to fulfil what was said by the prophet Isaiah, “The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib”(Is 1:3) Therefore, the animals, the ox and the ass, with him in their midst incessantly adored him.
The donkey and the ass were also the two animals, placed near the manger, that was set up by St Francis of Assisi in the first Christmas Crib.
Donkeys are also considered the means of travel for Joseph and Mary, when they went from Nazareth to Bethlehem (Lk 2: 4-5). Walking would have been ruled out as the distance was nearly 70-80 miles; also camel would have been an expensive as well as a wrong choice for a pregnant woman.
3. The Birth of Christ is a binding force among people
The Ox and the Donkey were sort of opposites – the ox was considered ritually clean (representing the Jews) and the donkey was considered unclean (representing Gentiles).
The Birth of Christ brings brought together both these races i.e. all peoples.
Jesus is and can be the only “uniting factor” for people of good will, in a torn and divided world!
4. The Donkey teaches us to be humble, hard-working and the mysterious manner of God’s Providence and Wisdom
Though generally, considered to be a dull animal (mainly, after horses became the mode of transport for the rich, and the donkeys were downgraded as being poor and stupid!), the Gospels depict the donkey with the virtues of humility and hard work.
The donkey would be the vehicle by which Jesus would make His triumphant entry to Jerusalem (Lk 19:30). It shows the amazing fact that “the world may consider as being dull; we ourselves may have a poor-self image; but God can still utilize us for His glory and honour, in the best way possible!”
Thus also goes that humour statement: “Rejoice if someone calls you as a donkey; it had the sacred privilege of carrying the King of the World!”
5. The other animals also are very symbolic and render great meaning
The Ox: Considered as one of the most-hardworking animals, it also signified prosperity and was also a sacrificial animal; it is also one of the four creatures mentioned in the Book of Revelation (Rev 4: 7) and is symbolized with the Gospel of St Luke. It teaches us to be zealous in working for the Kingdom of God and to be sacrificial in our attitudes.
The Camel: Considered, traditionally to be the carriers of the Magi – The Kings; teaching us the virtue of “helping or facilitating people to come towards Jesus”
The Sheep, Goat and Lamb: Considered as symbols of loyalty, meekness and devotion; teaching us to be loyal to Christ, meek in our ways, and devout to God’s Will. It also reminds the sacrificial aspect of Christian Life as being an integral (in imitation of Jesus, Who became the Lamb of God)
The Reindeer: Considered mainly, only with respect to Santa Claus; teaches us to help in carrying good wishes and gifts of blessings and joys to all
The Spider: Considered, as part of a legend, of having helped the Holy Family to hide from the Soldiers in their flight to Egypt, by creating a huge cobweb; teaches us to be defenders of our faith and Gospel values.
WHAT RESOLUTIONS CAN I PRACTISE TODAY?
Today I will seek to grow in greater harmony with nature, recognizing the presence of God
Today I will seek to be a unitive force in my family and community and be a carrier of Christ’s love to all
Lord, may my life, like the Christmas Animals, become an instrument of unity and a sign of Your New Creation in this world, Amen!
MARANATHA – COME, LORD JESUS!
We welcome you into our hearts! God Bless!