“And thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands of Judah: out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel; and His going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity. . . . And He shall stand, and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the height of the name of the Lord His God: and they shall be converted, for now shall He be magnified even to the ends of the earth.” Micah 5:1-4

NativityIcon1. In meditating on the Child in the manger we cannot do better than follow the meditations of His own saints. First is that of St. Paul; this is how his thoughts go: “Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. For He, though He was by nature God, yet did not set great store on His equality with God; rather, He emptied Himself by taking the nature of a slave and becoming like unto men. And after He had appeared in outward form as man, He humbled Himself [yet more] by obedience, yea, unto death upon a cross. Wherefore God hath exalted Him above the highest, and hath bestowed on Him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11, Westminster version). Thus St. Paul dwells upon the Nativity in its reference to our Lord Himself, His humiliation in it, and His glory.

2. Next is St. John, writing long after St. Paul. He says: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth. . . . And of His fulness we all have received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, grace and truth by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son Who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” (John 1:14-18). And he comments on this passage in these words: “By this hath the love of God appeared to us, because God hath sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we may live by Him. In this is love: not as though we had loved God, but because He hath first loved us, and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins. My dearest, if God hath so loved us; we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:9-11). Thus St. John dwells upon the Nativity in its reference to us.

3. Yet a further contemplation is that of St. Ignatius Loyola. He bids us “to see and consider what they are doing that is to say, the journey and the labour that they undergo in order that our Lord may be born in extreme poverty; and in order that after such toils, after hunger, thirst, heat, cold, insults, and affronts, He may die on the Cross, and all this for me; and then by reflecting to derive some spiritual profit.” Thus does the saint apply to this meditation his principle that “love ought to be found in deeds rather than in words”; and by dwelling on the deeds of love of Christ our Lord, begun here in the manger of Bethlehem, he would stir us to like deeds of love in our degree; how, as he says elsewhere, “I on my side, with great reason and justice, ought to offer and give to His Divine Majesty all things that are mine, and myself with them.”

Summary Meditation Points:

1. St. Paul dwells on the example of humiliation contained in the Nativity, and exhorts us to follow.

2. St. John dwells on the example of love, and exhorts us to the same.

3. St. Ignatius dwells on the example of sacrifice, the truest test of love: “all this for me.”


Archbishop Alban Goodier SJ (Mirror View 1)Editor’s Note: This meditation is from Archbishop Alban Goodier’s “The Prince of Peace” (1913).

Art: Нараджэнне Хрыстова. З Баркалабаўскага манастыра Магілёўскай вобл. [Naradžènne Hrystova. W Barkalabaŭskaga manastyra Magìlëŭskaj vobl.], 18th century, PD-US copyright expired, Wikimedia Commons. Mirror of Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J.,, all rights reserved, used with permission.

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