"They went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in the manger; once they saw, they understood what had been told them concerning this Child." —Luke 2:16-17
Two thousand years ago, a Baby was born to a traveling homeless couple. Living in abject poverty, this couple had to deliver the Infant in a barn and lay Him in a manger. A manger is a feeding trough for animals. A manger is where food is placed.
This unusual setting foreshadows the revelation that Jesus' "flesh is real food" (Jn 6:55). Many modern-day people have never seen a real manger. Thus, the manger has been romanticized as an idyllic, peaceful resting place for the Baby Jesus. However, real mangers are often dirty and smelly, surrounded by buzzing insects, and caked with rotting animal feed mixed with dung.
The humble shepherds were accustomed to smelly mangers and animals. On Christmas night, God sent hosts of angels to proclaim to the shepherds that the "infant" "Savior," "Messiah and Lord" would be lying "in a manger" (Lk 2:11, 12). Once the shepherds "saw" this incongruous sight, they "understood" what God had done (Lk 2:17) in sending the Word made flesh (Jn 1:14).
Can we look on a manger scene and understand that Jesus, God Himself, Who created animals, people, and food (Jn 1:1, 3), has been sent to us as Bread from heaven? (Jn 6:51) If not, let's humble ourselves more and more this Christmas season until, like the shepherds, we can "understand" (see Lk 2:17) Who Jesus is.
Prayer: Jesus, for Your birthday present, I dedicate Myself to receiving You in the Eucharist as often as possible, even daily.
Promise: "When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us." —Ti 3:4-5
Praise: Praise the Infant Jesus, Son of Mary, Son of God, Who comes to make all things new!
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 19, 2005
The Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.