Food is pretty important at holiday times. Food binds us together as families when we figure out who is bringing what to the potluck, it creates lasting memories, and it allows us to have something to do when we all get together. I’m willing to bet that more traditions are based around food than any other “subject” you could think of.
Christmas cookies. Christmas candy. The Christmas ham.
I’m not alone when I say that certain cookies and foods just drip with sentiment of this time of year. My favorite Christmas cookie is kifli, and it would be practically sacrilegious to serve them to me during the summer, for example.
We humans are driven by many bodily desires of the flesh, and our palates are certainly vying for first place. That’s just one of the myriad of reasons Christ chose to give us the Eucharist as something to touch with our tongues.
This week as we indulge in all the edible Christmas traditions, keep in mind the ultimate feast, the banquet of Heaven that we are so blessed to be able to participate in here on earth. Christ gave us His Body to eat not only at the Last Supper and on the Cross, but starting right at His birth.
The French derivative for “eat” is mange, which I always remember because it sounds like “manger”. A manger has become the word we use for the entire scene of Christ’s birth, the barn, the miniature cows and sheep, the hay strewn across the ground and thatched into the roof, the dangling angel with its halo sparkling, and the little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. But that baby is in the manger.
The manger is the feeding trough for the animals.
Manger. To eat.
The Christ Child was placed in the vessel from which animals eat, as a sign of what was to come. He would give His Body for us to eat at the end of His life, and who would have thought of that upon seeing the perfect infant lying in a feeding trough?
The priest in my hometown spoke on this once in a fabulous Christmas sermon, and I have been struck ever since by the beauty of the seamless design of Christ’s life. In my home church, the manger scene is place right in front of the altar, so that at the consecration, when the priest raises the host, you see Baby Jesus in the feeding trough, the Body of Christ raised for us to adore, and the crucifix upon which the Man’s Body hangs, offering His flesh for us, to us, to consume.
It’s the Ultimate Traditional Real Food, in perspective. Keep yours in check this Christmas, and adore the Lord at Christmas Mass in a new light.
Read more about the Eucharist at this series.