The Child in the manger stretches out His small hands, and His smile seems to say even now the same as later the lips of the Man: “Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened.”
The poor shepherds have followed His call, when the radiance of the sky and the voice of the angel had announced the good tidings to them in the ﬁelds of Bethlehem, simply saying: “Let us go to Bethlehem” and setting out on their way. The kings from the far-away East followed the marvellous star with the same simple faith; on them all the hands of the Child poured the dew of His grace and they “rejoiced with exceeding great joy”.
These hands give and demand at the same time: you wise men, lay down your wisdom and become simple like children; you kings, give your crowns and your treasures and bow down humbly before the King of kings; do not hesitate to take upon yourselves the sufferings and hardships His service entails.
You children. who cannot yet give anything of your own free will, this Child’s hands will take away your tender life even before it has really begun. It cannot be used better than to be sacrificed for the Lord of Life.
These Child’s hands say ‘Follow me” just as later the lips of the Man will say it. Thus He spoke to the “disciple whom the Lord loved”, and who now belongs also to those around the Crib. St. John, the young man whose heart was as pure as a child’s, followed without asking where and whither. He left his father’s boat and followed the Lord on all His ways even to the summit of Golgotha.
St. Stephen, too, heard these words “Follow me”. He followed the Lord to do battle against the powers of darkness, the blindness of obstinate unbelief. He bore witness to Him with his words and with his blood; he followed Him also in His spirit of love which fights sin but loves the sinner, and intercedes for his murderer even in death.
Saint Edith Stein
Stein, E 1931, The mystery of Christmas: incarnation and humanity, translated from the German by Rucker, J, Darlington Carmel, Darlington UK.