Rorate Caeli

The Nativity and the Passion

Just a few thoughts to follow up on the post from yesterday, "Christmas is the first day of Holy Week."

In that post, it was said, "His whole life on Earth was a lengthy Holy Week, from the hay in the manger which must have caused Him great discomfort to the cold He felt in His nakedness (the same nakedness to be humiliatingly exposed amidst the painfulness of Good Friday)."

Indeed, this is so, and many other such parallels can be found.

Many saints had noticed the Eucharistic overtones in the nativity account found in St. Luke's Gospel. Our Lord was born in Bet'lechem, the "House of Bread." He was promptly laid in a manger, which is to say, a feeding trough from which the animals would eat their wheat and grain. He, the Bread of Life, descended from heaven to lay upon this, the first primitive altar, here in the House of Bread.

Already then, we may see His manger/cradle as a kind of fore-shadowing of the Cross. The wood of manger mirrors the wood of the Holy Cross, the latter holding up the broken body and shed blood of Christ, the former holding the Cross' Eucharistic counterpart - albeit in a shadowy way.

And who is it that places Him upon this manger wood, if not the humble Virgin who would also offer Him to the Father from the foot of the Cross?

In this way, the Blessed Virgin becomes a kind of anti-Eve. The former virgin brought death to the human race by taking the forbidden fruit away from the wood of the Tree; the latter virgin brings life to the human race by returning the fruit to the tree - the "blessed fruit" of her womb, the Bread of Life, placed so carefully upon the wood of the manger-cross.

In just a few days, we will celebrate the next stage in this foreshadowing of Holy Week - the Circumcision of Our Lord, in which again we will see the Blessed Virgin bringing the Lamb of God to the holy temple, to "present him" (the Greek verb carries the connotation of a sacrificial offering) to the Father. Here, He will shed His blood in the ancient rite of circumcision, the first precious drops of saving blood which will ultimately save a sinful humanity.