Who is in the Manger?

Christmas is a beautiful time of the year when we are reminded that the heavens could not contain God, but a simple manger could contain the mystery of divine love.  We are reminded that love is stronger than death and that hope is the constancy of light shining through darkness.

We are amazed by this earthy God who shows up after five massive terrestrial extinctions, in which millions of species were wiped off the face of the earth.

We are confronted by the reality that death does not have the last word, that life endures beyond death, and that the power of love enkindling life cannot be snuffed out.

It is spellbinding that after millions of years of biological evolution human consciousness reaches a point where divinity appears; that Jesus is the human person who shows us the power of the human soul to manifest divine life.

In Jesus, we see that the heavens could not contain God, but the human person can do so, and we see that this is no typical cultic God, not a God who is distant, remote and in control but a God who is humble, selfless and in need of a human heart.  We see a God who is at home in the hidden silence of the desert and who appears only through human consent.

Christmas reminds us that God constantly moves from highest to lowest, from power to poverty, from creator to creature, because God is the mystery of love, and the logic of love is shown in the dynamism of relationship; as if God sings among the stars, “I need you to be complete.”

The birth of Jesus is really the mystery of the human person, not simply what we are but what we are called to be—God-bearers–capable of receiving God within us, holding God and nurturing God, as a mother loves her child.  We humans have the capacity for God-life, but we sell ourselves short and thus we constantly waver between beasts and angels – which is exactly the spot where the manger is placed.

Let us wake up this Christmas to the truth of our lives, not by sitting in front of a plastic baby Jesus in the manger, as we unwrap our consumer gifts, but by placing a mirror in the manger and bending low to see our face within it.  Then perhaps we may know the real meaning of Christmas, because the divine love made flesh two thousand years ago is now our flesh. Who is born in the manger this Christmas?  Let us be born anew, for the power of love within us is the power that can change the world.

Merry Christmas from the Center for Christogenesis!

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  1. darrylandmaryDarryl Nelson on December 21, 2022 at 4:54 pm

    “What good is it to me that God became human 2000 years ago, if I do not reflect God’s love in my life and in my time?” Meister Eckhart

  2. Joe Masterleo on December 21, 2022 at 6:07 pm

    With gratitude for the Christ who inhabits all things, for Ilia, and all those who labor behind the scenes to make C4C possible for so many in the spirit of Christmas old:


    You lay among the animals,
    rough straw and dusty hay,
    reposed in crude surroundings
    that predetermined day.

    A king without a castle,
    a monarch with no throne,
    the Maker of the universe
    without a house or home.

    A star without the limelight,
    a celebrity with no name,
    a stranger to enshrinement
    in any earthly hall of fame.

    King of earth and heaven
    confounding everyone,
    sheltered in a stable
    as God’s anointed one.

    Inhabiting a hovel,
    in the manger of our souls,
    dark and messy places
    where no one ever goes —
    an illuminating presence
    with the healing of aloes.

    I barely can imagine
    an earthly king as such,
    caring for his subjects
    so very, very much.

    Always very willing
    to play the lesser part,
    cradled where least expected
    in the manger of our heart.

    Pregnant there inside us
    giving birth to yourself there,
    awakening our spirit
    and renewing us in prayer.

    Thanks so much for stooping
    to us undeserving folks,
    as we’d never really notice
    without your sacrificial coax.

    A stable boy in residence
    cleaning-out the stalls,
    laboring unnoticed
    in dirty overalls.

    A doctor with no hospital,
    a judge without a court,
    a rabbi with no synagogue
    and little popular support.

    Monarch of earth and heaven
    in a helpless baby boy,
    divinity aborning,
    bringing tears of joy.

    Thanks so much for bending
    to us undeserving folks,
    for we’d never really notice
    without your sacrificial coax.

    Always so very willing
    to play the lesser part,
    swaddled and enfolded
    in the manger of our hearts.

  3. William A.White on December 21, 2022 at 6:21 pm

    Thank you, Ilia!….and for so much else you have shared over the years with us who are listening…..
    May I share with you how Fr. Richard Rohr expresses it…..”God’s life is living itself in me. I am aware of love living itself in me.”
    A Blessed Christmas!

  4. cjreinhart on December 21, 2022 at 9:14 pm

    This is an amazing, totally wonderful and accessible description of our Reality which is also quite shocking to be reminded of. Or perhaps it is the first we have had this reality explained to us in such a profound and simple way. It is the totality of what each of our lives is about.

  5. Brian Davis on December 21, 2022 at 11:39 pm

    Exquisite, timely, and true. Thank you.

  6. Anne McKeon on December 22, 2022 at 6:15 am


  7. Elizabeth Stamp on December 22, 2022 at 9:17 am

    With gratitude for your spiritual guidance during 2022. Peace, joy and grace,
    Merry Christmas,
    Elizabeth Stamp, Canada

  8. Carol Juen on December 22, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    Placing a mirror on the face of baby Jesus in the manager should generate some excellent discussion and draw in the teens and young adults. We are called to be God-bearers and contain within ourselves the power of love enough to change the world. Thank you.

  9. Leela on December 23, 2022 at 12:22 am

    A humble thank you, Sr Ilia for your ministry of Love. Every blessing!

  10. Naomi on December 24, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    I thank Ilia, the C4C staff and all the many out there keeping the light aloft, especially when now and then, it flickers for all and any of us.

  11. juliemmurray on December 26, 2022 at 11:41 am

    Beautifully stated, contemplated. Thank you!!

  12. 4jjlakaaj on December 30, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    Thank You so very much for being such a gifted and blessed mentor through these years and to all who keep this possible. Merry Christmas and thank you for guiding our hearts.

  13. Miranda Bocko on January 3, 2023 at 8:35 am

    That is a beautiful poem.

  14. Miranda Bocko on January 3, 2023 at 8:37 am

    Your words bring Christmas alive for me, Thank you so much.


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