No Nativity, No Eucharist

“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.” –Luke 2:7

NativityOur living room is rarely used. It has become a place to go to make a quiet phone call, read or just get away from the noise and activity of the day. It’s our quiet room.

It is also the place where my wife, Diane sets up the nativity scene each year, a place where I enjoy going to pray and reflect on the birth of our Savior.

As I contemplated the scene, I realized, for the first time, that the Eucharist was a continuation of the nativity, the continuation of Christmas.

The manger, a simple feeding trough, where the animals of the nativity scene were fed, held the same body of  Jesus, the bread of life, that we feed on in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

The next morning, as I received communion at daily mass, for a moment, as I held the Blessed Sacrament in my cupped hand, I realized that I held Jesus, body and blood, soul and divinity, the same Jesus born in a manger that first Christmas day.  My hands represented the manger and for a moment, as I held Jesus in my hand, my mind returned to the manger scene where I had prayed the night before.

In that moment, the stable where Jesus was born became the tabernacle and the manger became the ciborium. And, it became clear that we owe the Blessed Sacrament to Bethlehem.  No nativity, no Eucharist!

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. –John 6:35

Bethlehem, the city of Christ’s birth, Beit Lehem (בית לחם) is Hebrew for “House of Bread.” How appropriate that our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, would be born in a city known as the “house of bread.”

We realize that the bodily presence of Jesus, made incarnate that Christmas morning in Bethlehem, is the same presence, body, blood, soul and divinity that we share in the Eucharist.

Every time we receive the Eucharist, we are given the opportunity to “lay him in a manger.”

Over the years, volumes have been written about keeping Christ in Christmas, about continuing the Christmas spirit not just on December 25th, but every day of the year. We pray that we can somehow make every day Christmas day.

Help us Lord, to realize that we can do just that. We can do it in the reception of the Eucharist!  The Jesus, the Bread of Life, we receive, is the same body, blood, soul and divinity, born that first Christmas morning in the tabernacle of a stable and the ciborium of the manger.

Join with me, my friend, as we celebrate Christmas, not just on Christmas day, but all year long in the frequent reception of the Eucharist.

God bless you and Merry Christmas!

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