Christmas Vigil & Day – 24 & 25 December 2020

Bible Readings for Christmas Eve Mass at Night: I: Isaiah 9:1-6; Responsorial: Psalm 96; II: Titus 2:11-14; Gospel: Luke 2:1-14

We are all familiar with the beautiful story of the Nativity of our Savior and Lord, Jesus the Christ. Sometimes when something, however meaningful, is so familiar it can be easy to become dull to the power and beauty of the story. This season of Christmas in this extraordinary year let us consider the Christmas story from a slightly different but very Scriptural perspective. Let us seek the Holy Spirit to help us join with the Holy Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the angels and the furry creatures around the stable that first Christmas. In this year when for so many Christmas Liturgies are not what we would hope perhaps this first story of the first Christmas may help us celebrate fully, if perhaps, in ways unexpected.

The Holy Manger

Harry Martin

The manger in Bethlehem,

with planks old and worn,

chew-scarred and stain borne,

by many creatures who came

to the stable, to eat and rest

after serving their masters beck.

The manger in David’s city had fed them all.

Proud stock of Romans bold and might. 

Confident animals of Jewish

leaders of faith and right.

Tradesmen, workers, slaves and more 

their beasts of burden 

 at those manger planks worn

 their need and hunger met.

Now it was to this old manger 

Joseph, the carpenter looked.

His heart was grieved as he saw,

The stained, chewed planks

of the manger, by the stable wall.

His mind went to their Nazareth home away,

where his faith and love had made,

a crib worthy for the Son to claim. 

Where Mary, holy Mother, too had made,

the bedding for her son to lay.

She had woven and sewn.

 the restful wrappings, 

For her Son from above.

But she had not known

 they were but practice,

 for the day that to come. 

When in the tomb, her Son

 she would lay to rest again.

So Joseph, by duties, of love bound,

found grace to make the manger sound.

Soon clean and filled with fresh straw sweet,

Joseph found the work of trusts’ peace.

Disappointment waned as he worked 

to make the manger for heavenly worth,

The holy crib to which the Son of God was bid.

The animals ate and watched

from places normally unsought.

Their manger had become 

A humble holy crib

For God’s own Son.

 So with the holy angels, 

with Mary and Joseph,

those humble creatures,

of God’s creation,

Would be the first 

for Emmanuel

To welcome.