As we quickly approach the season of Christmas, and we once again celebrate the birthday of our Lord and Savior, I would like to share with you a true story of a puppy. I will let the puppy tell the story.
“My name is Diamond. My mother was a Doberman Pinscher. I was born one cold winter day in an outdoor cage. My two brothers, my two sisters and I were the five puppies that were born that day. I remember being very cold and hungry. Our mother was not well. No one had been giving her enough food to eat or water to drink. She died shortly after we were born. There was no one to take care of us, and so my brothers and sisters and I soon became very ill. One day some nice people came and rescued us from that situation and took us to a shelter where there were lots of other animals, all kept in cages. They put us in a cage too, and gave us all the food and water that we wanted. I gradually got better, but my brothers and sisters were too sick and they all soon passed away. I am the only surviving member of my family.
I lived my early puppy days in that cage till one day some strangers adopted me and took me home with them. The home that they took me to was nice and warm and they too gave me all the food and water that I wanted. The second day that I was there they left me all alone when they went to work. I don’t like being left alone. I get very frightened. When I am left all alone I am reminded of those cold winter days when we were all alone in that outdoor pen. I tried desperately to get out of that house, to escape to the outside world where there might be someone to take care of me. I pawed and pawed at the door and tried desperately to dig a hole under the door, but I could not escape. Later that day, these people returned home, saw the damage I had created by my trying to escape, and they beat me severely. This pattern, of them leaving me alone, my trying to escape and my being beaten on their return, repeated itself over the next couple of days. They finally took me back to the shelter and I was once again put in a cage.
Not long after that, another family adopted me, but they too soon left me all alone and once again I became frightened. And after several days, I was once again taken back to the shelter.
Then a third family adopted me, but that experience ended the same way.
So my life as a puppy was not a very happy one. Those experiences taught me to never trust strangers and I would always become very anxious whenever I was left all alone. Then one day, when I was nine months old, a nice lady adopted me. She had driven a very long way to come and get me and when we left the shelter that day, she let me ride in the front seat right next to her. I watched her very carefully that day, wondering if she too was going to leave me alone and beat me. But I soon learned that this nice lady worked at home. She rarely left me all alone. And when she did have to leave the house, she would always return after a very short while with bags of goodies, and there would always be a treat for me. She even took me to school to teach me how to understand what she wanted me to do. This became my forever home and she became my special person. For the first nine months of my life I did not know what love was. But, thanks to my special person, I now know.”
As I said, this is a true story. I tell this story to remind us of the fact that our Savior was not born in an ivory palace surrounded by nobility. The Bible tells us that when Christ was born, “They laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the place where travelers lodge.” (Luke 2:7) A manger is a feeding trough for animals. Our Savior was born in the place where the animals were kept. Tradition tells us that this was either a stable or a cave, an outdoor shelter for the animals. The King of Kings spent the first days of his life in a shelter, surrounded, not by the nobility of that time period, but by the animals. Our Heavenly Father chose the animals of the world as the ones given the privilege of witnessing the birth of His Son.
When I was young, my mom and dad had a cat. My mom was blind and she couldn’t let the cat live in the house for fear that she might step on it and hurt it, so the cat lived outside. One day, as my dad was walking out of the house, he stopped to pet the cat. As the cat sat there simply enjoying the petting, my dad looked at me and said, “Look at this and remember. Even the animals need our love.”
Jesus was born into our world to bring us a message of love. God creates and sustains all life. And by the birth of the Son of God, He taught us the dignity of all life, be it human, feather, fur, fin or flora. As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, may we be ever mindful of God’s creation and be especially considerate of all the creatures of this earth that share this planet with us, especially the lives of those creatures that God has placed in our care.
May you have a Blessed and Merry Christmas, and may the love of God be made manifest in your life.
REVEREND MR. DONALD COX is a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Detroit. On June 9, 1979, Deacon Don was ordained to the diaconate by His Eminence John Cardinal Dearden, an important American Father of the Second Vatican Council. He is currently assigned to St. Cornelius parish in Dryden, Michigan. Married and the father of three children and grandfather to four children, Deacon Don was born and raised in Detroit, and educated at St. Brigid Elementary School, Mackenzie High School, and Lawrence Technological University. His theological training was taken at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary.