As we recall, the swaddling clothes are strips of cloth in which the lambs, destined to be sacrificed in the Temple, were tied up and wrapped so that they would be “unblemished” and perfect offerings to the Lord. Notice a work to be offered to God had to be perfect, unblemished, finished. One can’t help but recall the insistence and performance by St. Josemaria on the way we do our work: punctuality, intensity, finishing – always finishing – down to the last details (without being punctilious and perfectionist as a vanity. The Son of God born of Mary is to be recognized as one of their flock who is destined to be sacrificed.
Recall that the tribe of Levi was set apart to exercise the priestly function of sacrificing the Paschal lambs as penitential act for the idolatry – the abomination of worshiping the creation of their own hands – the fashioning of the golden calf in the desert. Does this sin not continue in the present day? And is it not in Jesus Christ that the very nature of priesthood is transformed from the offering of blood of bulls and goats to the offering of the self. Consider Hebrews 9, 11-14 where St. Paul writes: “But when Christ appeared as high priest of the good things to come, he entered once for all through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands (that is not of this creation), nor again by virtue of blood of goats and calves, but by virtue of his own blood, into the Holy of Holies having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of a heifer sanctify the unclean unto the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ who through the Holy Spirit offered himself unblemished ( the symbolism of the swaddling clothes) unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
And so the swaddling clothes on the child are the tipoff that we are into a sacrifice of a different kind: that it’s not the sacrifice and offering of “things” (“blood of bulls and goats.” Sprinkled ashes of heifer”) but the offering of the self by the self; that one must bind himself, master himself. This is the message of Bethlelhem and the swaddling clothes. One of the Transcendent Trinitarian Communio enters dressed for the sacrifice that will destroy the evil of turning back on self for self which was the original sin.