Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. , at sacred-texts.com
THE world had subsisted about four thousand years when Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, having taken human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and being made man, was born of her, for the redemption of mankind, at Bethlehem of Judea. Joseph and Mary had come up to Bethlehem to be enrolled, and, unable to find shelter elsewhere, they took refuge in a stable, and in this lowly place Jesus Christ was born. The Blessed Virgin wrapped the divine Infant in swaddling-clothes, and laid Him in the manger. While the sensual and the proud were asleep, an angel appeared to some poor shepherds. They were seized with great fear, but the heavenly messenger said to them: "Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of exceeding great joy, that shall be to all the people. For this day is born to you a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign to you: you shall find the Child wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger." After the departure of the angel the wondering shepherds said to one another: "Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see the word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shown to us." They immediately hastened thither, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in the manger. Bowing down they adored Him, and then returned to their flocks, glorifying and praising God.
Reflection.—Our Saviour sanctified our flesh by taking it on Himself, and with His last breath He commended us to the care of His Virgin Mother. Day by day He still feeds us at the altar with the food of incorruption—His body and His blood.