"While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her first born Son. She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn." (Lk. 2: 6-7)
The great mystery of our Faith is that God chose to become Man to die for our sins and to reopen the gates of heaven. If one sincerely adheres to this truth, then the manner in which Christ entered the world must truly astound him. Far from the picturesque tableau that is permanently etched into one's mind, the night of the first Christmas was certainly bereft of any sentimentality. Here was an omnipotent majesty, deliberately being born into abject poverty.
Choosing privation over comfort, He did not even allow himself the consolation of nestling upon the warm breast of His tender mother, but elected, instead, to rest his newborn head on the jagged points of the manger straw. For from the first moments of His earthly life, Our Lord forsook, not only His desires but His basic needs, in order to give Himself to others. He lay there, in the bitter cold, defenseless against the barbs of the biting wind so that the humble shepherds could adore the Savior that loved them to the point of suffering with them.
His entire life was marked with sacrifice, not of begrudging duty, but one of joyful surrender. How providential it is that He is born into a family, the very community that must be marked by sacrificial love if it is to thrive! This denying of self comes more easily if it is voluntarily practiced through fasting, and accepting of small privations and inconveniences. It is not virtuous to do something when it comes naturally or when we are forced to, but rather when it is difficult and unnecessary. Our Lord's tremendous love for us is revealed in the fact that He freely chose the Cross. One, too, can show his love for others by patiently accepting daily disruptions and freely choosing to serve, rather than be served.