On Day 14 of our “Christmas Goodies,” we shall reflect on “The Christmas Manger”
WHAT IT IS?
The Gospel of St Luke says that Jesus Christ was laid in a manger, after his birth:
“Mary gave birth to Her First-Born Son. She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a MANGER” (Lk 2:7)
This Manger of Baby Jesus is very often depicted in the Christmas Cribs.
WHAT ELEMENTS CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS CHRISTMAS GOODIE -“THE CHRISTMAS MANGER?”
- Jesus being “laid in the manger” points to the Humility of Christ
One of the mistakes in our way of referring to the manger is that, commonly we say, Jesus was “born in a manger”; we need correct this, as Biblically we see, Jesus was “laid in a manger” after His Birth.
This being “laid in a manger” refers to His Humility.
Phil 2: 7 says, “Jesus emptied Himself..”
The manger teaches us to imitate Christ in His immense humility and willingness to let go of any selfish attitude or egoistic desires of life.
- The manger points to Jesus as the Food of our Life
The manger is described as “a trough or open box in a stable designed to hold feed or fodder for livestock”.
The manger was used to feed the animals.
This is further enunciated by the fact that the word ‘manger’ comes from an old French word “mangoire” or “menjoere”. This French word has two meanings (1) as a noun, it means “food” (2) as a verb, it means “to eat”
Jesus, the Word being laid in the manger, points to the fact that He offers Himself to be fed – in His Holy Word and His Holy Eucharist (Jn 6:48-51: “I am the Bread of Life…Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life”)
- The “lying in a manger” would be a pre-figuration of Jesus being “laid on the cross”
Jesus’ earthly life began by being “laid on the wood of the Manger”; it would have an end by being “laid on the wood of the Cross” (Lk 23: 33)
The manger therefore points to the fact that the “one who adores Baby Jesus in the Manger must also be willing to embrace the Suffering Jesus on the Cross, by taking up their own crosses of life”
- The lying in the manger refers to the “rejection by people” that would accompany Him and all who follow Him!
St Luke says that Jesus was born and made to lay in a manger because “there was no room for them in the inn” (Lk 2:7)
“Not having a room” shows the “non-availability of acceptance and approval” that would be a part of the Life of Jesus and all His followers!
- The manger points to Christ sharing with us in an “uncomfortable, distressful and even disgusting” situations
The manger was in a place which was probably quite cold. The only heat probably was from the cows – with their warm breath
The manger was in a place which was probably quite dark. It would be have been pretty gloomy and dim.
The manger was in a place which was probably quite dirty. Cleanliness and hygiene would have been far away from this place where the cattle were fed and were living.
It was in such a place that Jesus was born – identifying with us who are often caught up in the “cold, dark and dirty” situations – am often corrupt, unjust, terrorizing and discriminatory world
- The manger is a reminder of the parable of the Sower that Jesus would tell later in His ministry
In the Parable of the Sower, we hear the Word being sown in different soils. (Mk 4:1-20)
In the manger, we have Jesus, the Word been sown!
It’s a mighty reminder for us to be always enthusiastic, never grow weary or tired or discouraged, in sowing the Seed in every situation of life and to any peoples of the world!
- The manger shows that Jesus is very much part of our existential world
Often, the manger gets a very rosy and romantic image – being very neat, clean, well-designed and marvellously crafted.
But, in reality, we know, that manger would have been probably just an ordinary, simple and a regular place.
Jesus, gives the message that He is not a God who is “just too extraordinary or beyond human situations”; rather He is a God who is “very much with us”- sharing our daily lives and joining in all our struggles of life.
- The manger, being far from being clean, also shows the Saviour being laid in a sinful world
The manger, with its uncleanness, points to the sinful state of the world and Jesus being laid on it, shows that He had taken upon sin on Himself to redeem us (Is 53: 4-5)
It is a reminder that we ought to receive the forgiveness that is on the offer from the Saviour Babe, and live a life in holiness and sanctity.
WHAT RESOLUTIONS CAN I PRACTISE TODAY?
Today I will seek to ask the grace of the virtue of Humility and learn to practise by loving and imitating Jesus, who humbles Himself in the Holy Eucharist, our Food for life.
Today I will seek to have a deeper enthusiasm to sow His word even in the most distressing or uncomfortable situations of life and make Jesus, part of every activity in my life
Lord, with the symbol of the Manger before us, we pray, that you help us to bear all the crosses of our life with joy and trust, and to always be nourished by You, our Bread of Life, Amen!
MARANATHA – COME, LORD JESUS!
We welcome you into our hearts! God Bless!