Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Beginning of the New Year-Advent

On the first Sunday of Advent, some years ago, the religious sister working in the parish decorated the front of the altar with a large feed trough used for cows. Up until that day, I did not realize,that the manger we talk about in the Scriptures, is not a stable but a feed box for animals. The word manger for me meant stable in which animals were kept. I understood the whole for the part and was blind to the symbolism that Luke wanted us to see in his retelling of the first Christmas.

From that day, all the parishes where I have been, start off Advent with a big unadorned feed trough in front of the altar. It was embarrassing to have to admit that I did not know that manger means feeding trough. We use the word crib, creche, stable, manger and adorn it in such a way that people like myself do forget what Luke was getting at with the use of the word manger. It was an eye opener to me who should have known better, but I didn't, until sister gave me a Scripture lesson I will not forget.

Luke uses the word manger three times in the retelling of the Nativity; for us Catholics a very telling word for it reminds us that Jesus came to be our food both in Word and Eucharist. From Luke's telling we have as the center of the nativity scene this feed trough and nothing else. It is important to his message and some of us forget the central message distracted with all the other elements that we have added to the Nativity scene. That feed trough draws our attention to the Mass - liturgy of the Word and Eucharist: a symbol of great meaning for us during Advent.

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