Filed under: Christmas
WHAT DO I SEE IN THE CHRISTMAS MANGER?
When I kneel down and gaze upon Bethlehem’s Manger what do I see?
I see the Word of God – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jn 1:1 The Word is a Presence; a Revelatory Presence. We all listen, He speaks to me.
I see Life – “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jn 1:4 Life as ‘Source’; the Divine Life in union with human life – a New Creation offering Eternal Life.
I see Light – “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.” Jn 1:5,9 A light ‘that enlightens’. And what speaks to the conscience and heart of a person more, and enlightens more, than the innocent mystery of a baby?
I see Power – “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God…” Jn 1:12 John Paul II said that from the moment of the Incarnation, Creation “is permeated by the powers of the Redemption, powers which fill humanity and all creation” (DV #52).
I see humble Flesh – “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” Jn 1:14 When we recall this mystery in the recitation of the Creed, we bow or kneel: “…and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” One with us.
I see the fullness of God – “…full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” Jn 1:14 In this newborn baby we see the salvation of the world; a truth revealed and accomplished through grace, for our good, and to the glory of God!
I see Grace – “And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.” Jn 1:16 Grace like gentle life-giving rain, Grace like a river of living water, grace upon grace like an overflowing fountain; blessing human hearts with faith, hope and love.
All of this in the humble newborn baby lying here in His Manger; the fullness of the Incarnation – Divine redemptive powers issuing forth from His face, from His heart, from His tiny clenched fists as they open to the world!
“…. if someone intends to build a house or a palace he must first consider whether it is to be a lodging for a vine dresser or peasant or if it is for a lord, since obviously he would use entirely different plans depending on the rank of the person who is to live there. Now the Eternal Father did just that when He built this world. He intended to create it for the Incarnation of His Son, the Eternal Word. The end or goal of His work was thus its beginning, for Divine Wisdom had foreseen from all eternity that His Word would assume our nature in coming to earth.” St. Francis DeSales Sermon for Christmas Midnight Mass
O My God, please bless us as we contemplate the newborn Baby Jesus, all holy, full of innocence, the Son of God. May we realize on this Christmas day, the absolute dignity of each human person who is “fearfully and wonderfully made” in Your “image and likeness”.
As Mary and Joseph seek a place to stay they are perhaps surprised to find no place, except a manger. Regardless, the wondrous event occurs and God’s angels are present and shepherds are sent too, to behold the little Son of God, crying, blinking, arms and legs captured by gravity and flailing about, but finally completely at rest and at peace.
A MORNING OFFERING
O Lord, I am conscious of my many limitations and my helplessness. But in a way I am glad Lord because recognizing these makes me turn to You more often. Help me Lord in all things. I give my day to You as a little newborn might do.
The Virgin and St. Joseph Refused Shelter in Bethlehem Jan Massys 1558
Jesus’ life is marked by uncertainty from the very moment of his birth. He is certainly accepted by the righteous, who echo Mary’s immediate and joyful “yes” (cf. Lk 1:38). But there is also, from the start, rejection on the part of a world which grows hostile and looks for the child in order “to destroy him” (Mt 2:13); a world which remains indifferent and unconcerned about the fulfilment of the mystery of this life entering the world: ‘there was no place for them in the inn’ (Lk 2:7). In this contrast between threats and insecurity on the one hand and the power of God’s gift on the other, there shines forth all the more clearly the glory which radiates from the house at Nazareth and from the manger at Bethlehem: this life which is born is salvation for all humanity (cf. Lk 2:11).” John Paul II, Gospel of Life #33
“The stable at Bethlehem is the first place for solidarity with man: for one man’s solidarity with another and for all men’s with all men, especially with those for whom there is “no room at the inn” (cf. Lk 2:7), whose personal rights are refused recognition.” John Paul II , 24 December 1978
A MORNING OFFERING
O my Jesus, I offer You my day for the unborn who have been rejected by our world. There is no room for them at the inn today. Like the unborn of our day, You and Your mother were turned away when Your hour to be born had come. Thank You for sharing in their rejection.
“Patience is a twofold grace, that of waiting and that of suffering, both are a great aid to zeal. The Eternal Word’s zeal for the salvation of men had existed in all its perfection and all its fullness from all eternity, yet think how long He waited! When the conditions were changed and He had at length become incarnate, He still waited patiently for nine months,and after that He waited for thirty years! This was zeal, zeal in its perfection. Is my zeal tempered with patience?” Mother St. Paul’s book Ortus Christi (published in 1921) .
A MORNING OFFERING
O My Jesus, grant me the grace of patience and zeal. Help me this Christmas to renew my intention to bring You to everyone I meet. May I look for ways to bring Your love to those in need. You came as a lovable child – may I learn to present your lovable face to others.
(click here to learn more about Nellie Edwards and her apostolate.)
“Now Mary’s Expectation was full of God, and therefore it was joyous. It had two intensities of joy in it: the intensity of created holiness thirsting for the sight of God; and the intensity of an earthly mother’s desire natural, simple, and human, but immensely sanctified to see the Face of her Babe, whom she knew to be God as well. ….Mary yearned for that earthly beatific Vision, the Face of the Incarnate God. She had doubtless intellectual visions, as mystics call them, of the beauty of the Sacred Humanity, before that night at Bethlehem. But these would rather increase the burning of her desire, than be a satisfaction to it…” Fr. Frederick W. Faber, D.D., Bethlehem
A MORNING OFFERING
O My Jesus, as Christmas approaches help me today to long to see your face. May everything I do today as I prepare for this wonderful feast be done with love. Help me choose to be cheerful even as I hurry through my day – cheerfulness that is rooted in the joy of the season.
“Christmas is the feast of man. A human being is born. He is one of the millions and millions of people who have been born, are being born and will be born on earth. A human being, one item in the vast range of statistics. It as not without reason that Jesus came into the world when a census ‘was being held, when a Roman emperor wanted to know the number of subjects in his territory. A human being is an object to be counted, something considered under the aspect of quantity, one of many millions. Yet at the same time he is a single being, unique and unrepeatable. If we celebrate with such solemnity the birth of Jesus, it is to bear witness that every human being (is) somebody unique and unrepeatable.” Urbi et Orbi Message of His Holiness John Paul II Christmas 1978
A MORNING OFFERING
O my Jesus, thank you for coming into this world as a man, for choosing to belong to the human race. Thank you for showing us the true worth of each person. As we celebrate your birth, may our respect for each human life increase.