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  • Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan

The Manger



NATIVITY AND THEOPHANY - DAY 4


If something in the Bible is mentioned three times, it means that it has a powerful message to convey. In the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the “manger” is mentioned three times. The evangelist relates that shortly after his birth, the infant Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. The manger was a wooden or stone container full of straw to feed the animals. And what is its significance? Why does the evangelist mention it three times and our Christmas hymns eight times?


The manger is, first of all, the perfect symbol of the humility of the Only-begotten Son of God. At his first night on earth, the pre-eternal Son, the Creator of heaven and earth, slept not in lavish palaces or mansions, but in a humble grotto, in a modest manger. As we reflected upon in our meditation yesterday, the earthly life of the Lord Jesus Christ, from the manger to the crucifixion, was a path of humility, obedience, and selfless devotion.


In addition to humility, the manger also points to the feed. The animals were fed and received their daily food from the manger. The heavenly Father sent his Only-begotten Son, the Bread of Life, who was born in a manger in Bethlehem, which literally means “House of Bread.” In the Gospel of John, our Lord Jesus Christ says: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry” (John 6:35). And at the Last Supper, he “took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you” (Luke 22:19).


The manger reminds us why the Lord Jesus Christ became human. He came into the world to give himself as spiritual food for human beings. He came to satisfy the hunger of our hearts, which could not be satisfied otherwise. And indeed, humanity is hungry and thirsty for justice, love, hope, joy, peace, kindness and grace. And the “manger” declares that only the Only-begotten Son of God, the Bread of Life, can satisfy the insatiable hunger of our hearts.


The Miserere Hymn of Nativity, Tone VIII.


Word of God, from the beginning with God and himself God,

image of the uncreated and consubstantial with the Holy Spirit,

is manifested in these latter days,

willing to become incarnate from the Virgin womb

for the salvation of mankind.


The pre-eternal Son who exists before eternity,

today appears on earth as perfect God and perfect man,

is wrapped in swaddling clothes

and laid in a manger with irrational [animals],

for the salvation of mankind.


The Sun of Righteousness rises in Bethlehem of Judea,

the Uncreated-one is worshipped today by the Magi from the East,

he is glorified by the blessed shepherds of the open fields,

for the salvation of the human race.

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