Hurrying to the Mangerside

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Christmas Day


Luke 2:1-20

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels went away from them to Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.


Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, this is the day! This is the day of your Son’s birth and how I thank you for sending him to us, for dwelling among us, and for the salvation you offer us in him. I wish to bend down, enter the cave, and draw close to the mangerside in these moments of prayer. Let me contemplate your newborn Son with his mother and foster-father beside him, and then, let me be with you. Speak to me, if you wish, or be silent. But only be with me Father of our Infant King. 


Encountering Christ: 


  1. St. Joseph Led the Way: How Joseph’s concern for his wife must have grown as he sought a place for Mary to give birth. What great responsibility he must have felt, and how he must have prayed for God to provide for her and her newborn son, his foster son and Savior. He and Mary made the trip to Bethlehem because it was Joseph’s hometown. They had traveled a long distance. They were worn out and aware that the time had come. He was doing his very best to find shelter, yet they found no room in the inns of Bethlehem. Do Joseph’s angst and his great desire to love God’s Son and provide for Mary find resonance in our hearts this Christmas? Perhaps we’ve done our very best to serve our loved ones, surmounted obstacles to prepare our Christmas hearts and homes, and yet find ourselves in an unexpected situation. Can we trust like St. Joseph that God desires to be born in us regardless of our circumstances—that our Father has things all worked out (Romans 8:28).
  2. The Shepherds Hurried to the Mangerside: The shepherds, the lowliest of the low, the greatest of the outcasts, were the first whom God called to adore his son. Did they recognize the magnitude of this moment? As C.S. Lewis said, “Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.” At the angel’s bidding, these shepherds approached the stable and greeted the Holy Family. With nothing more than their poverty and tender love, they bowed low before the infant to kiss his royal brow. And then they left, emboldened for their new mission, to tell everyone they saw about the newborn King. 
  3. We Draw Close to the Mangerside: Over these past weeks of Advent we have prepared our hearts to encounter Jesus in his manger, and that moment has arrived. We bring to the infant Jesus the gifts of our weaknesses and strengths, our efforts and failures, our self-offerings, and even our sinfulness. We are confident that Jesus receives it all, and loves us. “Jesus is born for a humanity searching for freedom and peace. He is born for everyone burdened by sin, in need of salvation, and yearning for hope” (St. John Paul II). 


Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I adore you and I love you. I thank you and I praise you. Here I am; here is my heart. You have come for me, and how I welcome you. You know my poverty better than I do, but you don’t seem to mind, as you are poor, too. Infant King, I am grateful you hear me and love me. 


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to begin this new, special season of Christmastime united to your Mother Mary and St. Joseph. 


For Further Reflection: “Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that he gave his only Son. The only requirement is to believe in him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life” (Corrie Ten Boom).


Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid and Valencia, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families and young people she’s there to serve.

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