Creighton University's Online Ministries

Reflecting On the Manger
The Mystery Revealed to Us in the Hay
An ox knows its owner, 
and an ass, its master's manger; 
But Israel does not know, 
my people has not understood.
- Isaiah 1:2

The story of the birth of Jesus, as told to us by Luke, is full of joy in the midst of great conflict and sadness - even irony and rejection.  It prepares us for the scandal of the cross by helping us see, in such a beautifully told story, that Jesus' mission is revealed to us, in how he came to us - in poverty and humiliation. There, in the hay, we begin to know.  There, in the manger, we begin to understand.  Our God is revealed to us by coming in the lowliest of possible places. It is a meditation for our whole lives.  This story is here to bring us light in the midst of any darkness, poverty, rejection, emptiness, sinfulness we experience.  By reminding us of where he comes, the Good New is also a revelation of who we are.  We are the "people who walk in darkness."  We are people who experience parts of our lives as dry and unwelcoming as that hay.  We are people who, on our own, not only fail to know and understand; we are capable of tremendous infidelity and stubborn independence.

We get our word "manger" from the Latin (and so French, Italian, Spanish) root, which means simply "to eat."  Jesus comes, into the greatest place of our povery, not only to be "with us" but to nourish us.  The manger can be the place we go this Christmas to be fed with the acceptance, love, and peace we need.  There is no place of darkness in which we need ever feel alone.  There is no situation, no loss, no tragedy that need ever leave us empty.  There is no sin, no matter how selfish that will ever leave us apart from God's love.

We have prayed, "Come, Lord Jesus. Come and visit your people.  We await your coming.  Come, O Lord."  Now, our eyes are opened to the wondrous joy of his coming to us in that manger 2,000 years ago, so that we will know and understand his coming to us in our hunger today, and ultimately so that we will long for his final coming to bring us to the banquet that has been prepared, to fill all our longing.
 

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