An Advent & Christmas Season Reflection Based on Away in a Manger by Katie Kimball

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kimball_katieAway in a Manger

Jesus Christ was born in solitude, away from the crowds, just as He sought time alone during his public ministry as an adult.  Granted, He was always found, whether by shepherds and kings or a crowd hungry for more miracles, but Jesus certainly showed us the value of time away.

Let us take time alone this day, or this week, to find a place to be away.  Away from the hustle and bustle of the Christmas to-do lists, away from the stress of navigating human relationships, away from the temptations of the world.  Most importantly, find a time to be away with Jesus.  Find Him alone as the shepherds did and honor Him, show Him the clean place you have created in your heart where you want Him to reside forevermore.  Nestle together in the stable, warm with the satisfaction that your God will always be with you, no matter how far away you may feel.

No Crib for a Bed

One of the first things that new parents worry about is where the baby will sleep (and how the baby will sleep).  How many books are there on the market about babies’ sleep habits and parents’ struggles with them?  It is compelling that the Son of God was born with no crib, no proper nursery room, no white noise machine…

God could have sent His Son in any way one could imagine:  in a blaze of fire, attended by legions of angels, simultaneously in all times in all homes throughout history, if He chose.  How incredible it is and worthy of meditation that He chose to come to us not only as a human, but as a helpless, infant human, and on top of all that, a poor, homeless one.

God may have had the striking simplicity of the manger scene in mind, whether Precious Moments or Fontanini, but I doubt it.  We can be fairly certain He was telling us something about the nature of God and the nature of humanity in His not-so-grand entrance.

The lesson for us from Jesus’ entrance into the cold world is humility.  Christ allowed Himself to be cared for by Mary as we must learn to allow Him to care for us.  We are called to be little children, trusting, obedient, and relying not on our own lofty knowledge but on the faith that God will always take care of us.  Let us pray today for an increase in humility, both in our own lives and in our culture, for politicians, entertainers, students.  Let us pray that we may appreciate the simplicity of a baby without a crib, who must be carried or cuddled, who relies completely on His parents, even though He created them in the first place. May we be content with what we have.

The Little Lord Jesus Laid Down His Sweet Head

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, a saint of just over 100 years ago, wrote often of her “Little Way”.  She believed that doing simple, everyday tasks for love of Christ and love of souls is the way for most of us to worship Jesus, the King.  She had a special heart for the Infant Jesus, who came to us so little, yet is such a BIG God.

When we sing of the Infant Jesus laying down His sweet head, I can’t help but think of another time His head was laid low, when the crown of thorns was placed upon it as punishment for the sins of us all.  He redeemed the sinfulness of our minds, where so much evil takes place, by allowing his head to be pierced.  The sweet Blood of Jesus ran down His face, pouring out salvation for the world.  Do you think Mary, His Mother, pictured His head surrounded by manger hay when she saw it encircled by thorns?

Let us today pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, the head of the Church instituted by the hands of Christ, whose sweet head we honor at Christmastime and always.

The Stars in the Heavens Look Down Where He Lay

We’re rather used to reading personification in our fiction, where animals and objects take on human qualities like talking, seeing, and even feeling emotions.  It probably doesn’t give you pause to read about the stars “seeing” the Christ Child laying in a manger filled with hay.  If you take a moment to ponder what looking stars might mean, what do you think?

I think of the Community of Saints, which includes the faithful here on Earth, the faithful who have passed into Eternal Life and those who are on their way.  They are called the Church Militant, for those fighting the good fight in the world, the Church Suffering for those being purified in Purgatory, and the Church Triumphant, for those who have realized the Joy of Heaven and eternity with God.

Imagine the hope and delight of those “stars” waiting for the doors of Heaven to be opened again, those saints looking down to see the Savior of the world born in a manger.

We are blessed to be able to ask for the prayers of the saints while we pray for those in Purgatory to be able to complete their journey.  Just as we pray for friends around us, we can count on our friends in Heaven to look down where we play and bring our intentions to the Lord.

All you holy saints and angels, pray for us!

The Little Lord Jesus, Asleep on the Hay

I’ve been teaching my four-year-old son this Advent about sacrifice and acts of kindness, and he’s been laying hay in a manger as a birthday gift for Baby Jesus.  Every time he does something out of love for God, he signifies it by building a soft bed for the Baby to be born on.

Any time is a good time to be reminded of the value of sacrifice and recommit to making little acts of sacrifice, kindness and generosity each day of Advent, or the Christmas season, or ordinary time.  I want to become better at giving gifts to the Infant Jesus out of pure love for Him and His Children (three of which live in my home and deserve my utmost every day).  Let us concentrate on the sweet face of the Infant Jesus, sleeping contentendly with the knowledge of our love for Him.

Copyright 2009 Katie Kimball

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