Two missionaries were visiting an orphanage in Russia that housed one hundred girls and boys who had been abandoned by their parents. It was Christmas time, so, they decided to tell them the story of Christmas and then asked them to make a manger with Jesus in it. They provided all the necessary materials for the craft.
As the orphans were busy assembling their mangers, one of the missionaries was walking among them to see if they needed help. As he looked at one little boy’s manger, he saw not one, but two babies. He quickly called for a translator to ask the boy why there were two babies in his manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at his completed manger scene the child began to repeat the story very seriously. He related the story quite accurately until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. He made up his own ending to the story as he said, “and when Mary laid Jesus in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked if I had a place to stay? I told him I have no mother or father, so I do not have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I could not, because I did not have a gift to give to him like everyone else. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so I thought about something that I could maybe use as a gift: I can keep him warm, that would be a good gift. So, I asked Jesus, ‘If I keep you warm, will that be a good gift?’ And Jesus told me, ‘If you keep me warm that will be the best gift anyone ever gave me.’ So I got into the manger, and Jesus looked up at me and told me I could stay with him, forever.”
Everyone would like to be in the manger with Jesus, but of course, we cannot be physically with Jesus in the manger, since Jesus is no longer in the manger. That event happened more than 2000 years ago and we cannot return to the past. However, we can be with Jesus spiritually in the manger and this beautiful true story gives us a nice tip: to be in the manger with Jesus we must warm Him. How can we warm Jesus? The answer is very simple: whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me (Mt 25:40).
That is the greatness of charity: it makes us warm Jesus, it makes us be close to Jesus, it makes us be in the manger with Jesus. That is why, St. Clement asked: “Who will be able to adequately explain the bond that divine charity establishes? Who will be able to give an account of the greatness of its beauty?” And then he beautifully answered: “Charity raises us to ineffable heights. Charity unites us to God; charity covers the multitude of sins; charity endures everything, bears everything with patience; there is nothing arrogant in it; charity does not admit divisions, does not promote discord, but does everything in concord; in charity all God’s elect find their perfection, and without it nothing is pleasing to God.” (St. Clement, Letter to the Corinthians).