And why did it happen this way? One of those who did not “see” was Herod, who did not understand anything even when they told him about the Child, who on the contrary became ever more blinded by his own power and the hysterical fear of being challenged that went with it (Mt 2:3). Those who did not see were “all Jerusalem with him” (Mt 2:3). Those who did not see were all those “dressed in fine clothing”—the refined people (Mt 11:8). Those who did not see were the scholars, the Bible experts, the specialists in the interpretation of Scripture, who knew exactly the correct biblical passage but nonetheless understood nothing (Mt 2:6). The ones who “saw”—those were, in comparison to all these renowned people, but “ox and ass”: the shepherds, the magi, Mary, Joseph. How could it be otherwise? In the stable, where he dwells, there you do not find the “fine” people; there you will find, of course, ox and ass. And what about us? Are we so far away from the stable because we are much too refined and too smart for that? Do we not get all entangled in scholarly exegesis, in the proof or disproof of historical authenticity to the extent that we have become blind and deaf to the Child himself? Do we not really all too intensely dwell in “Jerusalem”, in a palace, withdrawn within ourselves, in our self-sufficiency, our fear of being challenged, too much so to be able to hear the voice of the angels, to set out to worship? Thus, in this holy night, the faces of ox and ass are turned toward us questioningly: My people does not understand, do you recognize the voice of your Lord? When we put the familiar figures in our crèche, we would do well to pray that God would bestow on our heart the kind of simplicity that recognizes the Lord in this Child—just like Francis in Greccio. Then this might happen also to us: everyone returned home, full of rejoicing.
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 406). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.