L-Għaġeb is a popular figurine, traditionally made of clay, in Maltese Christmas cribs. Most of the time this is a figure of ridicule; he is the freak, the fussy person, the exaggerator, the one who makes a mountain out of a molehill.

L-Għaġeb is also the one, however, who expresses wonder, who lets himself be surprised and astonished by what is going on around him. Amidst all the noise of daily life, he stands out for stopping and marvelling in front of God who has just become man. He comes to terms with his own reality, and he appreciates it. Yet we still laugh at him.

Irrespective of how earnestly God tries to reach us, we laugh away because we already know the message. We are already familiar with what God is talking about, so we do not bother taking neither this man’s astonishment nor what this refers to seriously. We are now too busy with ourselves, and very often we grow desperate just because of this.

For some of us, however, all this wondering in front of a baby is a reminder of how far God came for us; in Wojtyla’s words, God stopped a short step away from nothingness, very close to our eyes. For all of us, however, this baby is an ever timely reminder lest we forget how fragile we are.

Photo credit: Jean Noel Cutajar

Jean Claude graduated with an MSc in Anthropology in 2014 from the University of Aberdeen and is currently reading a Bachelor’s Degree in Sacred Theology at the University of Malta.

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