More than a Manger

Like any well-wrapped gift, there is more to Christmas than meets the eye. We see the Infant lying in the manger, and see His poverty, and the manger, and the animals close by.

And yet, more than what we immediately see has been revealed. Knowing the Son, we know that there is a Father, and we come to know the Holy Spirit by Whose power the Word was made flesh. The mystery of the Trinity, which cannot be know by reason alone, is revealed in Bethlehem. The wise men following the star could not have found it out; they had to be led to it. Well for those with the courage to believe as they did, on finding the Babe and mother.

As the Liturgy of Christmas unfolds, the mysteries, without losing their divine orientation, have a great deal to do with us and our salvation. Christ is God, but has taken to Himself our human nature, with the purpose of transforming us. How does this transformation happen? It’s easier to understand in a kind of parable. Water becomes wine. The Holy One is baptized, transforming the waters, to bring about all righteousness.

It is a wedding feast. The bride’s jewels, according to St. John of the Cross, are made from the Infant’s tears. Something new has happened to us, and its name is salvation.

This is why the Epiphany joins together these three different mysteries, because they are all the same story, our story in Christ, in the Benedictus and Magnificat antiphons:

Today the bridegroom claims his bride, the Church,
since Christ has washed away her sins in Jordan’s waters;
the Magi hasten with their gifts to the royal wedding;
and the wedding guests rejoice, for Christ has changed water into wine,
Three mysteries mark this holy day:
today the star leads the Magi to the infant Christ;
today water is turned into wine for the wedding feast;
today Christ is baptized by John in the river Jordan to bring us salvation.

And this is why the angels sing, the uniting of heaven and earth–for our sake, to lift us up.

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