Homily of Bishop Scicluna on Christmas Day 2013
Let Us Recognize the Manger of Our LordThe Gospel of the Mass at Dawn on Christmas Day begins with the decision of the shepherds: “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem”. They wanted to see for themselves the sign given them by the angel of the Lord: “you shall find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12).Around Bethlehem there were many mangers. The name “Bethlehem” (Beth Lehem) itself means “House of Bread”. All caves that offered shelter to livestock had their mangers or feeding troughs. But on Holy Night of Christmas only one such manger contained a baby, the baby Jesus. Only one manger contained, besides food for animals, the Son of the Creator himself. Only one manger contained he who was to say: “I am the Bread of Life”.Around the manger we lovingly put the ox and the donkey. This tradition is inspired by the prophecy of Isaiah: “The ox recognizes its owner, and the ass the manger of his master” (Is.1:3). The sweet and silent presence of the ox and the donkey beckons and warns us. Are we looking for nutrition of mind and heart from the manger of the Lord (who is the Word of God made flesh) or from other mangers and troughs with the result that instead of the food of wisdom we are assimilating the food of folly and the rat poison put by our enemy?Around the manger of baby Jesus there are also a woman and a man: the mother who gave him birth and her husband Joseph whom God chose to bring up, along with the mother, the child of Mary. God, who generated his Son as a human being without the participation of a man, did not want his Son as man to be brought up without the participation of a man. The silent and essential mission of Joseph was to ensure that the boy Jesus, in his upbringing as a man, was not deprived of a father’s affection and example. In the upbringing of his Beloved Son, God himself ordained and chose to be subjected to the wisdom and law of creation according to which a baby should be reared by a mother and father, by a couple made of a man and a woman and not by a couple made of woman and woman or a couple made of man and man.May the Sweet Baby of Bethlehem grant us the grace that those who in our country have the power to build or to destroy, may have wisdom to build and not to destroy the family based on the lasting bond between one man and one woman.The message of Christmas remains always a current message. It beckons and invites us to seek and recognize the true Wisdom that the manger of our Lord Jesus embraces.
✠ Charles J. Scicluna
Bishop tit. San Leone
Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar General of Malta