“The creator of the universe is not a cold and impersonal force. It is a love that makes itself vulnerable for the sake of the other. The logic that lies behind all things is an infant too weak to raise his own head.” Robert Barron
Perhaps the tree at your house is looking a bit dusty and disheveled. Maybe you’re preparing yourself mentally for packing up the trappings of the holiday season–a task few of us relish. But before we move on to a new year and the brunt of winter, let’s take one more look in the manger, peeking into the place where He was born and beyond.
Nativity scenes often show us a wooden structure or a cave. We imagine this place to be away from human habitations. However, more than one Bible scholar asserts that first-century Israelite homes had a stable inside the house on the first floor.
Animals were inside when family members needed their presence to help heat the dwelling. Built-in mangers were a feature of every home.
Jesus was born in a family’s home that had filled up with other guests. He was born in an animals’ place–yet among people.
On Christmas Eve, I attended Mass with my son. One sentence the priest said has stayed with me: “Jesus was born in a stable because that’s where the sacrifices were kept.”
Even a birth inside a home-stable is an unusually humble way for the King of kings to arrive. Yet, this birth richly symbolizes His life’s purpose–to die on our behalf.
Barron: “Willing the good of the other (the classical definition of love) is moving with the deepest rhythms of creation and with the very nature of God.”
Love came down from Heaven for our good–not for His power. There was a cave in Christ’s life. But it came at the end, not at the beginning.
Understanding the true meaning of Christmas leads us to the true meaning of Holy Week–Christ’s suffering for us–then His power over death in resurrection.
Emmanuel is the God who lives with us, having come for us. He walked among us–and taught those of us who would listen. He still teaches those willing to hear.
The sacrifice dwelt briefly in the stable and ultimately paid our sin debt. He emerged alive again from a cave/tomb. That is our true celebration of Christ.