God so ordained that, at the time when His Son was to be born on this earth, the Roman emperor should issue a decree ordering everyone to go to the place of his origin and there be registered in the census. Thus it came about that, in obedience to this decree, Joseph went to Bethlehem together with his virgin wife when she was soon to have her Child.
Finding no lodging either in the poor inn or in the other houses of the town, they were forced to spend the night in a cave that was used as a stable for animals, and it was here that Mary gave birth to the King of heaven. If Jesus had been born in Nazareth, He would also, it is true, have been born in poverty; but there He would at least have had a dry room, a little fire, warm clothes and a more comfortable cradle. Yet He chose to be born in this cold, damp cave, and to have a manger for a cradle, with prickly straw for a mattress, in order that He might suffer for us.
Let us enter in spirit into this cave of Bethlehem, but let us enter in a spirit of lively faith. If we go there without faith, we shall see nothing but a poor infant, and the sight of this lovely child shivering and crying on his rough bed of straw may indeed move us to pity. But if we enter with faith and consider that this Babe is the very Son, God, who for love of us has come down on earth and suffers so much to pay the penalty for our sins, how can we help thanking and loving Him in return?
O Dear Infant Jesus, how could I be so ungrateful and offend Thee so often, if I realized how much Thou hast suffered for me? But these tears which Thou sheddest, this poverty which Thou embracest for love of me, make me hope for the pardon of all the offenses I have committed against Thee.
My Jesus, I am sorry for having so often turned my back on Thee. But now I love Thee above all else. ‘My God and my all!’
From now on Thou, O my God, shalt be my only treasure and my only good. With Saint Ignatius of Loyola I will say to Thee, ‘Give me the grace to love Thee; that is enough for me.’ I long for nothing else; I want nothing else. Thou alone art enough for me, my Jesus, my life, my love.
O Mary, my Mother, obtain for me the grace that I may always love Jesus and always be loved by Him. Amen.