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Thursday, December 25, 2003

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Isaiah 9:1-6
Titus 2:11-14
(midnight Mass readings)
Psalm 96

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the sign of the manger

"She gave birth to her first-born Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the place where travelers lodged." —Luke 2:7

After Jesus was born, He was laid in a manger, a feeding trough for livestock. This was a sign that the angel's words to the shepherds were true and of great significance (Lk 2:12). Jesus' manger is also a sign that Jesus was rejected from birth, even to death, even to now. The manger is a horrifying sign, for at a manger there are livestock, fodder, animal excrement, rats, mice, bugs, and a pronounced stench. To be born under these circumstances is shocking. The manger is a sad sign of the sin of rejecting God and of our hardened hearts.

If we look further behind the sign of the manger, we see not only the sign of the cross but the mystery of God's love. Why did God let us treat Him so despicably? God is Love (1 Jn 4:8, 16) — unconditional Love. His crucified love is infinite, perfect, and beyond comprehension.

On this first day of Christmas, look at the manger; look at the Christ Child; look at Love. Enter into the mystery of God's love and, with the wise men and women of all times, give yourself totally to Jesus and worship Him.

Prayer:  Father, send the Holy Spirit, the true Christmas Spirit, to lead me into the depths of Your Triune love (see 1 Cor 2:10).

Promise:  "For a Child is born to us, a Son is given us; upon His shoulder dominion rests. They name Him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace." —Is 9:5

Praise:  Praise the Christ Child, Love Himself!

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert A. Stricker, June 23, 2003

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2003