ISAIAH 9:1-6 | TITUS 2:11-14 | LUKE 2:1-148
The Pastor’s Reflections
“She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
This one sentence from Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth speaks about Jesus, us, and the world we live in. There’s a word in that wonderful sentence that brings up an important question. The word is “because.” We tend to read the sentence as two distinct thoughts, “She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger” is one. The second is, “There was no room for them in the inn.” The way it’s written seems to say that “because” there was no room for them in the inn Mary wrapped the child in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger. Is this sentence merely giving us three facts – swaddling clothes – manger no room in the inn? Or is it giving us three ideas that are meant to help us understand something about Jesus, ourselves and the world?
First, let’s look at the images, swaddling clothes and manger. The clothes that wrapped the child Jesus as an infant are a child-sized image of the cloths (shroud) that will wrap his body at his death. The second image, the manger, intimates that Jesus will be a source of nourishment and life. On the night before his death while at his last supper with his disciples, he broke bread with his disciples telling them, “This is my body which will be given up for you.” His redemptive death was forever to ne remembered and celebrated in the breaking of the bread.
Here’s the message of this one sentence in Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus. Jesus poured out his life and his love for anyone who would accept him and believe in him. Not everyone will invite him into their lives. For some, there will still be no room for him. But he will continue to search for the heart that will find and accept him. He continues to offer himself, the bread of life, in the Eucharist we share. He’s still present to us feeding us with his very person. And, we must never forget that he asked us to do the same. “Love one another as I have loved you.”
The Christmas story isn’t about the past; it’s about the present. It’s about us and the world we live in that’s so in need of redemption. The key to its redemption, “peace on earth to people of goodwill,” is to live a life based on love and self-giving, to accept Jesus as our model, to integrate him into our lives, to make room for him in the inn.
The sisters, priests and brothers of St. Jean Baptiste wish blessings and peace for you and your families, and a happy and healthy new year.
Fr. John A. Kamas, SSS Pastor