OYP Away in a Manger: Christmas Reflection

by Anita Zidar

Today the Church celebrates the birth of Christ. Emmanuel, the HOPE of the world. Especially for those of us who are cradle Catholics (like myself), the impact of this major day of celebration may have dulled over time. Every year, we follow the rhythm of the Church’s liturgical seasons and observe the same feasts and celebrations repeatedly. Perhaps, we find ourselves entering more deeply into the tangible preparations for Christmas like decorating, buying gifts and new outfits, or preparing for our Christmas parties. These things, while not bad in and of themselves, may have distracted us from making a true preparation of our hearts for the Lord. 

Christmas may also be a difficult time for a lot of us as we are thrown into family gatherings that we lack enthusiasm for, forcing us to face tenuous family relationships. Can this truly be a season of hope, joy and merry-making for us?

This then is how we are united, not just with Jesus, but with Mary and Joseph in the poverty of the manger. A few Christmases ago, I was making a DIY nativity scene with my son as part of the Christmas decorations for our home, and my son asked what Jesus was laying on. I searched my mind for the right term. Crib, bassinet, cot?  Then it hit me. Jesus was most likely laying in a small drinking or feeding trough that the animals usually fed from. There was literally nowhere else to lay Him down, Mary and Joseph had to make do.

“And from His fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.” (John1:16)

Often times, we may feel very separated from this fullness of grace that Scripture talks about. Yet, this is how the Word made flesh entered the world, in utter and abject poverty. Truly, we are reminded of how Jesus comes to us. Not in our finery and the shine of our manicured celebrations. Rather, He enters into the manger of each of our hearts, in all its squalor and lack. It is here that His grace persists all the more –– in our broken relationships, in the troughs we settle for when we have nowhere else to lay our heads. Whilst born into the lowliest of conditions, this little babe would ultimately grow up to be the salvation of mankind, of each of us.

Today, as we celebrate Jesus’ coming to meet us, let us keep our poverty in mind. Let us not allow these things to get in the way of us fully receiving this gift of Jesus’ life, and what this gift means for us.  Let us not miss out on how this gift is ever relevant to these very areas of our lives that need Him the most, for He meets us there.

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