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I’m always amazed by the miracle of the Eucharist. Not so much by the fact that God turns ordinary bread and wine into Jesus’ body and blood, soul and divinity, however. If you can create everything from nothing, turning one thing into another really isn’t that big of a deal. So, the transubstantiation of the species isn’t what captivates me. Rather, it’s the utter poverty of God and the self-emptying servitude He embraces on our behalf. Put differently, the wonder of the Eucharist for me is best grasped through the lens of the Christmas story. At Christmastime, we celebrate how the eternal God and Creator of all entrusted himself to a human mother, was conceived in her womb and entered the world as a little baby.

And then, if that weren’t enough, he chose to be born in a manger hidden from the powers of the world. He wasn’t hiding himself to avoid conflict—for his presence quickly came to light. But he came to us in this manner to reveal the interior depth of God’s heart—He is meek and humble of heart. The conditions by which God chose to redeem us on the cross also reveals the interior depth of God’s heart to us. And yet, he has taken one further step that leaves no doubt of His love. He has become food to chew and swallow into our very own selves.

The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, because through it, we are intimately united with the love of God through Christ’s real presence. Like the Holy Family in their travels to Bethlehem, Jesus is the one to whom we must always journey, and he is also the one from whom all our activity should flow. In the Eucharist we encounter the Christ child; we discover who we are in His love for us; we are nourished and thus grow as he continues to gather our lives into himself.

Let us all be reminded this Christmas that we must become like little children for all of God’s Christmas blessings to be received. He doesn’t offer Himself as a child or in the Eucharist to the self-assured, or the self-reliant, the proud, or sophisticated. He offers Himself to the “little ones”, those who are poor in Spirit, to those with eyes to see and ears to hear the “wonders of His love.” For only those who are like Him can receive Him as He has given Himself to us, as a child poor and humble of heart, lying in a manger.