Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Two Visitors at the Manger

St. John says of Jesus, “He came into His own and His own received Him not.” Jesus came to His own people at Bethlehem to ask for a hotel accommodation; he got no suite but instead a stable.

At the stable, the Child-King was visited by two groups of men: the shepherds were the first to arrive at the stable, the kings next.

In terms of guide, the shepherds were guided by the singing angels; the kings by the star. The two guides differ in this: the angels were spiritual beings, while the star is a thing.

The two well-wishers brought their gifts: the shepherds offered lambs, while the kings gold, frankincense and myrrh. The two gifts differ in this: the lambs were lives, with life, while that of the kings were lifeless things.

Christ intentionally appeared first to the weak, to the shepherds, to generate being, to generate life, “and the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was as they had been told.” Lk. 2:20.

What they heard was a Gospel of liberating hope and what they saw as a liberator born in a manger. “Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you: he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Lk. 2:12.

Only the men of humility and goodwill can read the signpost to salvation.

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