Your Hands are a Manger When They Receive the Body of Christ

Homily for Christmas (Year B)
December 24-25, 2017
4:30 PM – Holy Trinity, Tabor
10:00 PM – Sacred Heart, East Grand Forks
10:00 AM – St. Francis of Assisi, Fisher

Focus: Your hands are a manger when they receive the Body of Christ.
Function: Stand in awe of this mystery.

Original Sin and the Fall
• At the dawn of humanity…in the Garden of Eden: 2 trees – Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; Tree of Life
• Adam and Eve, in disobedience, reach out and take from the Tree of Knowledge. Sin and death enter the world. They have to leave the Garden lest they reach out and take from the Tree of Life as well.
• The Original Sin: Pride, Disobedience, Taking

2000 Years ago…on this night
• In the silence…in the stillness…without much fanfare…the Lord comes.
• God becomes man – one of us
• Divinity takes up humanity
• Adam and Eve took the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge
• God gives his son and places him in the womb of the Virgin Mary
o The Son – the fruit of not the Tree of Knowledge, but the Tree of Life
o “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus”
o “I came that they might have life and have it to the full…” John 10:10
• Mary then places the God-man in the wood of the manger
o Wood comes from trees…

What is a manger, if not a feeding trough? A place where animals eat…
• Foreshadows the Eucharist.
• Jesus is the Bread of Life from the Tree of Life

At the Cross
• Christ, in obedience, allows men to place him back on the tree.
• Un-does the sin of Adam: Humility, Obedience, Giving
• Christ dies, rises, and ascends to the Father…

Now at this Mass
• Adam and Eve reached out and took the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge
• God gives his Son in the womb of the virgin Mary. She places him in the manger.
• He allows himself to be placed back on the Tree of the Cross…The Cross that stands revealed as the Tree of Life.
• And now at this Mass, he comes to us again and is placed back onto the wood of this altar. The Fruit from the Tree of Life, the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, comes and is laid on the manger of this altar.
• The Body of Christ once again is placed on the manger of this altar…and then you come forward and receive him into the manger of your outstretched hands. And you take him into yourself, and he is born, tonight, not in Bethlehem like he was 2000 years ago, but he is born into your heart this Christmas night.
o May we never fail to stand in wonder and awe of so great a mystery!
o May we never spurn by indifference a love so fervent, a love so marvelous…but may we always stir up within our hearts a great love and fervor for the One who gave everything for us.

Our God has become so small that our very hands can hold him, like that manger in Bethlehem.
May we never fail to place ourselves within his hands, as he places himself within ours.

(Excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI, “The Blessing of Christmas”, Chapter 3: The Tree of Life)