Every year in Wednesday Night Sunday School we cover this bit of Isaiah:
“The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master’s manger; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand.”
And connect it to these bits of Luke:
“And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
“And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.”
See, Luke mentions the manger twice so we can understand the birth of Jesus in the context of chapter 1 of Isaiah: here’s the Messiah right here in this manger, he’s the master, nobody knows about it but dumb animals and the like. That is, Luke says manger to point out something from the past. I mean, what other reason would Luke have for bothering us with where Mary happened to plop Jesus? But he specifies manger to also say something about the future. I’ve been teaching Catechism of one sort or another since the late 90s, and don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this other connection about mangers and Jesus:
Miracle bread in Bethlehem*, get it? No? How about this:
Miracle bread and flesh, see? No? OK then, this:
You know: “the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” Of course the dumb-yet-French-speaking ox and ass knew perfectly well all along that you put food in a manger**. But that would be Isaiah’s point: sometimes the dumb and lowly know better than their betters.
*Bethlehem: בֵּית לֶחֶם Beyth Lechem, House [of] Bread.
**Manger: French, to eat.
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