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The Eucharist and the manger



The unveiled baby Jesus during a Christmas Eve mass at St Peter's Basilica lead by Pope Francis to mark the nativity of Jesus Christ, on December 24, 2014 at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP / ALBERTO PIZZOLI

Fr. Peter John Cameron, OP - published on 12/24/23

Eucharistic Revival series: He is sustenance, not just for our bodies, but for our darkness, our sorrows, our depression, our fears, our inability, our lack.

We lay our gaze on the Divine Child lying in the manger. A manger is a kind of low, open trough — a container for feeding the household animals. In his infant repose, Jesus wishes that the first thing we see be — not an idea, not a “vision,” not a message, but — sustenance. Here, born for us, is the Daily Bread he will himself teach us to pray for every day of our life. He is sustenance, not just for our bodies, but for our darkness, our sorrows, our depression, our fears, our inability, our lack. He comes to us — not just to be known, or learned, but — to be consumed

As Pope Benedict XVI said so beautifully:

Man, in order to live, needs bread, the fruit of the earth and of his labor. But he does not live by bread alone. He needs nourishment for his soul: he needs meaning that can fill his life. Thus, the manger of the animals became the symbol of the altar, on which lies the Bread which is Christ himself: the true food for our hearts. 

What happens in this creche aims to connect us with the cross. It is said that St. Francis of Assisi made the first Christmas crib so that people should see with their own eyes the hardships that Jesus suffered as an infant. By his wounds we are healed. 

When we contemplate in faith the Baby Jesus in the manger, we can grasp and enter into the mystery of Christ present in the Eucharist with on-fire conviction.

What attracted me to your adult body — tortured, crucified, and pierced with a lance — was its conformity to mine. O sorrowful Christ, in whom I seek myself and in whom I find myself, give me the grace to stop by your manger, to lean at length over your Infinite Being totally captured within a little flesh (François Mauriac).

We can continue to lean over the Body of Christ in the manger by leaning close to the Last Supper altar and to the tabernacle in prayer.

The manger is even a kind of monstrance. We do well to behold the Eucharistic Host aided by these words of Caryll Houselander: “The Host is resting among us in order that Christ may work the miracle of his love in us, changing us almost imperceptibly into himself, that through us, his love may overcome the world.”


Installments in this series can be found each week here: Real Presence

ChristmasReal Presence
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