The Wooden Manger was the First Calvary

By: Sr. Clare Hunter

This is what it meant to Mary to give human nature to God:

He was invulnerable; He asked for a body to be wounded.

He was God; He asked her to make Him man.

He asked for hands and feet to be nailed.

He asked for flesh to be scourged.

He asked for blood to be shed.

He asked for a heart to be broken.

The stable at Bethlehem was the first Calvary.

The wooden manger was the first Cross.

The swaddling bands were the first burial bands.

The Passion had begun.

Christ was Man.

— The Reed of God, Caryll Houselander

Each Advent, I pick up my copy of The Reed of God, by Caryll Houselander, an English mystic, artist, poet, and author. I might read all of it, just certain chapters, my underlined sentences, or just a paragraph. The Holy Spirit always works and brings me to a reflection, or thought, that is just what I need to remember.

This year, it was important for me to be reminded that “in God’s eyes being something comes before doing something.” Just as the Blessed Mother “….was not asked to do anything herself, but to let something be done to her.” The Blessed Mother was a pure, empty vessel, who surrendered her life to God, so that the Christ child could come into the world. A very important reminder: life is not about “doing.” It is about being a true daughter (or son) of the Father, to let something be done unto me, to be like Mary, to bear Christ in the world. It is really the only vocation each baptized son and daughter of God has in this world.


We are afraid. We know only too well what it means to bring Christ into the world, to follow Him, it means the cross. This fear did not stop the “child-mother,” the young Mary, whose response to God is simply “be it done unto me.” She knew what her yes would mean, and Ms. Houselander states it most perfectly in the section above.

As we celebrate the birth of Christ this week, let us pray in gratitude for our salvation, and for the ways we will bear Christ, in joy and suffering, into the world.

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