To enter the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem you have to bend over. The door allows only the little ones to pass through without bending down. The rest of us have to crouch to enter.
It is said that it was constructed so that men on horseback couldn’t enter the church. They would have to get down from their high horses.
In the Gospel the magi enter the house where they find Jesus and Mary. Falling down, they adore him. They fell down, to translate the Greek literally. They found themselves on the ground – perhaps the only place from which we can get a real perspective on God who became flesh of Mary.
And they adored him. Some suggest that the word is related to dogs licking the hand of their master. I don’t know about this, but I do think that we adore when we are close to the God who comes. I wonder if we really can adore a God whom we keep far away from us.
As I ponder this mystery, I recall the words of the martyred archbishop, Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero. In his December 24, 1978, homily he said:
…no one can celebrate an authentic Christmas unless they are truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud of heart, those who despise others because they do not possess the material goods of this earth, those who do not need or want God — for these people there is no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, and those who need someone to come to them because they have need of someone, someone who is God, someone who is Emmanuel, God-with-us — only these people are able to celebrate Christmas. Without the spirit of poverty one is unable to be filled with God.
Unless we fall down in awe, identifying with the poor, can we really encounter the Word made flesh?