Felix dies nativitatis

Imagine the birth. Mary pushing, shoving, moaning, yelling. Imagine the placenta, umbilical cord, blood, fluid. Imagine for a moment that the stable and animals are not fiction. Imagine the noise, the animal dung, the smells, the hay getting places it shouldn’t.

Imagine the mess.

The nativity is messy. The infant is born into mess. My life is messy. Your life is messy. If you say it’s not, I don’t believe you. Being human is messy. But being human is what the nativity is all about.

People try to clean up Jesus. People try to clean up God. But the truth is that God is not present only in things that are cleaned up. God does not demand tidiness or purity. God does not demand cosmetics or fig leaves to cover up bits of us that we would like to be hidden away. God does not demand that we pretend. If God were to demand anything (which it doesn’t), it would be that we hide nothing – that we accept the reality of the mess we’re in.

God is present in you and me, in your mess and mine — the mess of the world. God works with mess: disorder to order, chaos to cosmos. We have no need to pretend. Pretending is exhausting. I have no energy left to waste on pretending. As it says at the beginning of St John’s Gospel, every single one of us is a child of the Divine. I am. You are.

The message of the incarnation is that you and I are like Mary — agents of the divine. Let Jesus grow in you as Mary let it grow in her. As it says in verse 4 of “O little town”, O holy child of Bethlehem … be born in us today. Everything you do to make life a bit better for somebody else is you acting as God’s agent. Everything you do to make life more difficult or unpleasant for somebody else is you acting as Satan’s agent. Choose well.

You will make mistakes. You will get things wrong. You are not perfect. Get over it. Enjoy being human. Help others to enjoy being human. Help others to glimpse joy and delight, even if only for a moment. Then, you are letting the holy child be born in you again and again.

The Christmas message is not about making yourself sick on chocolates, or stuffing your face, or arguing about what to watch on TV, or about reliving your childhood. The Christmas message is about bringing joy to the world — and helping others do likewise.

Happy Christmas. Mess is made divine,

4 thoughts on “Felix dies nativitatis

  1. Professor Monkhouse,
    You are Joy personified. As always your words are love, your life, (the little of it that we know) is a true inspiration. You once thought us an anatomy of the body and lately, the anatomy of the Soul.

    I could and would not believe in a God in heaven were it not for the beauty of Nature, and the inexplicable existence of exceptional inspirational men like you.

    Thank you for your Chistmas pearls, they shine bright in the mud and mire of life.

    • thank you Marcus. You’re a joy too! I don’t know what I believe, certainly not a sky pixie God who needs to be appeased, but elements of the Christian story without too many dogmatic accretions are profoundly psychologically authentic. This is one of them. W’re up the road with our son in Mornington, Co Meath. Back to Burton tomorrow afternoon. My email is stanleymonkhouse@gmail etc

  2. Great blog again thank you RRR
    I try to be fearlessly honest with God not only because He knows, because too I love Him, and wonder of wonders Him me.
    A different fear is that others will see the depth of my mess and not like me, even reject me. Others see some of it indeed but not all.
    Like you dear RRR they know I have obvious and hidden mess.
    Lo and behold out of our mess, despite it, we do bring joy, amazing!

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