The Threefold Sign of Christmas

  • And  this will be a sign for you.
  • You will find an infant,
  • wrapped in swaddling clothes,
  • and lying in a manger.
  1. An infant – here we have show for us the humility of our God. The infinite, becomes an infant. The voice that summoned the universe into existence is now heard as the crying of an infant. The hand from which galaxies tumbled into existence now grips the finger of his mother. He who holds all creation together in himself, is now held by his mother. He who looks down on all creation now looks up from a manger. Alpha et O, matris in gremio (Alpha et Omega is sitting in Mommy’s lap).  The humility of our God, who humbles himself so that we will not fear to approach. This is the first sign.
  2. Wrapped in swaddling clothes – Women in the ancient world “swaddled” their newborn children. That is to say they wrapped them in linens that were rather tight and constricted the the movement of their arms and legs. It was thought that the newborn infant might injure himself by jerky motions of the limbs so newly freed from the tight confines of the womb. The wrappings kept such motions to a minimum for the first days after birth. The sign here of the infant Jesus being wrapped in linens in a foreshadowing of the wrapping (same verb) of his body after it was taken down from the cross. The binding of the limbs too reminds us of his limbs being nailed to a cross some thirty years later.
  3. Lying in a manger – A manger is a feeding trough for animals. Jesus would later speak of himself as our food in John 6. He who was born in Bethlehem (a name which means  House of bread) and laid in a feeding trough would one declare himself to be the Bread of Life and that his flesh was real food and his blood real drink (John 6).

Alright Christian, have you beheld the threefold sign of Christmas? Our God humbles himself for us in his birth, would die for us, and feed on with his very flesh and blood. Behold our God, Behold the Lamb of God.

4 Replies to “The Threefold Sign of Christmas”

  1. My daughter was swaddled in the hospital after her birth. I believe the thinking nowadays is that swaddling makes for a more comfortable transition by emulating the confines of the womb. When we brought our baby home, however, I found that she would have NONE of the swaddling. She wanted to stretch out in a big X (ok, maybe a lower-case x).

  2. Thank you for such a beautiful commentary on Christmas. We Catholics need to hear/read more of this in order to enhance our Spiritual journey and be of assistance to others in their journey.Our oldest daughter and husband married 1 and 1/2 years have blessed up on October 29th of 2009 with a grandson, our first grandchild and also born on the same day as my father. Christmas this year was very special and we are both grateful to God for this blessing. Never in my life have I ever felt a need to thank God, Jesus his Blessed Mother Mary and St. Joseph- a model for all families to imitate.

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