While the Romans occupied Israel during the reign of Caesar Augustus, a virgin named Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel in the town of Nazareth. He announced to her that she was to conceive the Son of God in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. In her humility, Mary accepts this gift from God. Mary, who becomes the Ark of the New Covenant, now held within her Jesus, the Word of God made flesh who is the new high priest that will give Himself to us as the true bread from heaven. 

An angel also appears to her betrothed husband Joseph with the same message, who also humbly accepts the will of God. The couple is forced to make the trip to Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph end up in the humble housing of a stable, a home for the animals. It is there that Mary gives birth to Jesus and lays him in a manger, a trough from which animals would eat. He would then be exiled to Egypt when King Herod sought His life.

The humble story of the incarnation and nativity of Jesus are a pattern that will set the stage for His salvific mission. Humility and poverty are chosen themes throughout Jesus’ life. He was born into poverty, grew up in poverty, ministered in poverty, and died in poverty. At no point in His life does Jesus grasp after worldly power, even though He is the Son of God. 

In His poverty and humble birth, Jesus gives us allusions to His future presence in the Eucharist. He was born in the town of Bethlehem which literally means ‘house of bread.’ At His birth, He placed in a vessel for holding food to be eaten revealing that He will be food one day. Finally, He went to Egypt against His own will like His ancestor Joseph. Joseph ended up saving Israel, Egypt, and all the nations that came to Him by providing them bread during the time of famine. When Jesus comes out of Egypt, He saves Israel and all the nations by becoming food for a world starved for God because of sin.

Originally published in Prime Soil Magazine | Vol. 1 No. 2

Originally presented at The 10th National Eucharistic Congress in July 2024