“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds in the same district living in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them and the glory of God shone round about them, and they feared exceedingly. And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of ,great joy which shall be to all the people; for there has been born to you today in the town of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord’ “
When was Christ born? –Christ was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Christmas Day, in Bethlehem, more than nineteen hundred years ago.
- When Jesus Christ was born, the Jews were no longer independent. In 64 B.C. Pompey reduced their kingdom and subjected it to Rome. Because the Jews were always plotting rebellion against Rome, the Jewish king was replaced by Herod, a Gentile, the first non-Jew to become king. Thus the scepter was “taken away from Juda”, and the time predicted for the Messias had arrived.
- Today we reckon dates from the birth of Christ. This has been the continuous custom since the time of Charlemagne, although many rulers from the 5th century had adopted the practice. However, there is an error of some four to six years. Generally, it is supposed, as a matter of historical fact, that Christ was born 7-5 B.C. An error in the calculation of dates in later centuries produced this anomaly.
- Bethlehem is a little town in Judea, near the city of Jerusalem. Joseph and Mary went there in obedience to the Emperor at Rome, who had commanded all his subjects to register in the towns of their ancestors. Joseph and Mary were both descended from King David, whose city was Bethlehem; this is why they went to register there. They tried to find a place to stay in, even for only a night, but could find refuge nowhere. And so they sought shelter in a poor stable; there Jesus was born.
- Jesus was born in a stable, a poor place. He preferred poverty and humiliation in order to suffer more for us. He wished to show Himself a friend of the poor, and to teach that the best way to heaven is through humility, and detachment from worldly goods.
- The Church celebrates the Nativity on December 25. The feast is called Christmas. On this day every priest is granted the privilege of saying three Masses: one in commemoration of Christ’s eternal birth from God the Father; another in remembrance of His temporal birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and a third to recall His spiritual birth in the hearts of the faithful. The word “Christmas” comes from Christ and Mass The feast is so called because on that day the Mass commemorating the birth of Christ is said.
- An angel appeared to shepherds and told them of the Nativity. A star led three Magi (Wise Men) to Bethlehem. The shepherds represented the poor. The Magi represented the rich. All offered their gifts to the Infant Jesus. Our Lord does not look at the price of our gifts, but at the purity of our hearts. The Church commemorates the adoration of the Magi on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. “Epiphany” means manifestation. In the persons of the Magi, who were not Jews, Our Lord was manifested to all nations of the earth, who were at the time lost in paganism. With the Magi, we are called to the Truth; the Old Testament was ended, and the world had entered upon a new Covenant with God. And if, like the Magi we offer Jesus Christ the gold of our love, the myrrh of self-sacrifice, and the incense of our prayers, we too shall be united with God.
- Many churches and homes set up a crib at Christmas. This custom, although of very ancient origin, was popularized by St. Francis of Assisi. In the year 1223, he visited Pope Honorius III and sought approval of his plans to make a scenic representation of the Nativity. Having obtained the Pope’s consent, Francis left Rome, and arrived at Greccio on Christmas Eve. There in the church he constructed a crib, grouping around it images of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, of the shepherds, the ox, and the ass. At the midnight Mass St. Francis acted as deacon. After singing the words of he Gospel, “And they laid Him in a manger” , he knelt down to meditate on the great gift of the Incarnation. And people around saw in his arms a Child, surrounded by a most brilliant light. Since then the devotion to the crib has spread far and wide. The crib remains in church until the octave day of the Epiphany. At the proper time the images of the Three Kings and their retinue are added, making a daily advance towards the crib.Most homes also set up a decorated Christmas tree. It is a reminder of the tree of the cross. The boxes of Christmas gifts remind us of the great Gift that God sent us.Santa Claus, the jolly and beloved distributor of Christmas gifts, is an American adoption of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, of the fourth century. This Saint is popular in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, where he is made the secret purveyor of gifts to children on December 6, his feast day. The custom was brought to New York by the Dutch, quickly spread throughout the United States and became absorbed into the Christmas celebration.
What incidents in Our Lord’s life were closely connected with the Nativity? –The following incidents in Our Lord’s life were closely connected with the Nativity: the Circumcision, the Presentation, and the flight to Egypt.
- The Child received the name Jesus when He was eight days old. He was circumcised, according to the custom of the Jews. At the Circumcision Jesus began His role of Mediator between God and man, shedding His blood for the first time for us.“Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for He shall save his people front their sins” (Matt. 1:21). “Therefore God . . . has bestowed upon him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” (Phil. 2:9,10). “If you ask the Father anything in my name. he will give it to you” (John 16:23). The feast of the Circumcision is celebrated on New Year’s Day. Thus the Church teaches us to begin everything in the name of Jesus.
- When Jesus was forty days old, His Mother presented Him in the Temple at Jerusalem. In imitation, though the rite is essentially different, mothers today after childbirth seek the blessing of the Church in a thanksgiving ceremony called “churching”. The feast of the Presentation is celebrated on February 2. It is also called the purification of the Blessed Virgin, or Candlemas Day. On this day candles are blessed and carried in procession, in memory of the words of holy Simeon, when Jesus was presented in the Temple. He said Our Lord was “a Light of revelation to the Gentiles”.
- Mary and Joseph took the Child Jesus to Egypt to save Him from King Herod, who wanted to kill Him. An angel appeared to Joseph and told him to take the Child Jesus and His mother away to Egypt. They stayed in Egypt until the death of King Herod. Then an angel appeared to Joseph and bade him return to the land of the Jews.
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.
God Bless BJS!!
Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin bethrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And when the angel had come to, her, he said, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.’ When she had seen him she was troubled at his word, and kept pondering what manner of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou host found grace with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus'” (Luke 1:26-31).
What is meant by the Incarnation? –By the Incarnation is meant that the Son of God, retaining His Divine nature, took to Himself a human nature, that is, a body and soul like ours.
- The Incarnation is the greatest act of humility possible. By it the Son of God, eternal, almighty, infinite, voluntarily took upon Himself human nature with its weaknesses. He circumscribed Himself with a human body that would feel sickness and pain, and with a human soul that would cause Him agony. Incarnation means “becoming flesh”. Thus the Son of God took a human body and soul and united it to His divine Person. Without ceasing to be God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became man at the same time. The divine nature of Christ is from all eternity. Only His human nature began at the Incarnation.
- By virtue of the Incarnation Jesus Christ came to earth. This is a mystery which we can never fully understand, but must be content to honor and adore.“The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Christ as man was like us in all things except sin. He could not sin, because He is God. But in all other things He was like us: he had a human body, a human soul, a human will. Can we understand this with our reason? Hardly. As St. John Chrysostom said: “I know that the Son of God became man. but how, I do not know.” God, Who produced the universe from nothing, also caused the Incarnation.
How was the Son of God made man? –The Son of God was conceived and made man by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Three persons of God cooperated in the Incarnation, but only the Second Person took on flesh: only He took to Himself a human nature.
- The Incarnation is peculiarly the work of the Blessed Trinity. They formed a human soul and a human body, and these they united to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity: the result was Our Lord Jesus Christ, God-Man. To the power of the Holy Ghost we attribute the Incarnation, because the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity peculiarly expresses the Spirit of Love: and the Incarnation is the supreme example of God’s love for men.
- It was fitting that God the Son should become incarnate, rather than the Father or the Holy Ghost; for the Son proceeds from the Father, and could be sent by Him. God the Son then could, as the fruit of His Redemption, send God the Holy Ghost. Thus through the Son of God we became adopted sons of God.
When was the Son of God conceived and made man? –The Son of God was conceived and made man on Annunciation Day, the day on which the Angel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she was to be the Mother of God.
- In Nazareth of Galilee lived the Blessed Virgin Mary. One day the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her and said: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:28). Mary was surprised. The angel said: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son: and thou shalt call His name Jesus.” This event is called the Annunciation commemorated by the feast on March 25.
- Mary knew that the angel was sent by God. She answered: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38)At these words of the Blessed Virgin, Jesus Christ became man in her womb, and the incarnation was accomplished.
- The mystery of the Incarnation is commemorated daily by the Angelus, a prayer said by Catholics morning, noon, and night, at the ringing of the Angelus bell. The Angelus bell is rung in a particular way: at the verse, it is sounded three times: a pause follows while the Hail Mary is recited. “This procedure is repeated three times for the three verses and three Hail Marys. Then follows continual ringing while the Prayer is said. During the Easter time the prayer Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) is substituted for the Angelus. Those who do not know these prayers by heart, or who cannot read, may say five Hail Marys instead.
Did Jesus Christ have human parents? –Jesus Christ had a human mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, but He had no human father.
- The Blessed Virgin was Christ’s mother as man, but not as God. However, the Blessed virgin is truly the Mother of God, because the humanity and divinity of her Son are inseparable. In a similar way we call our parents mother and father, although they only gave us our body, and not our soul.
- Christ had no human father. The Blessed Virgin remained a virgin all her life. The conception of Our Lord is a great miracle and a mystery that we cannot understand. We can only accept it as true on the word of God, Who is almighty. St. Joseph was the legal spouse of Mary, but both of them preserved their virginity, consecrating it to God. They always lived together as brother and sister. St. Joseph was only the guardian or foster father of Our Lord.
- We should honor and love Saint Joseph, because Our Lord honored and loved him. Holy Scripture calls him a just man. He was a most pure man; and this is why God selected him as the virgin spouse of Mary, to care for her and the Child Jesus. Jesus loved St. Joseph and obeyed his slightest wish. Mary even called Joseph the father of Jesus.
- It seems that Saint Joseph was born in Bethlehem of Judea. But at the time of the Annunciation, he and Mary were living in Nazareth of Galilee. He was a carpenter. It appears that he died before the beginning of Christ’s public life. The memory of Saint Joseph was venerated from the very earliest centuries. In 1870 Pope Pius IX declared Saint Joseph Patron of the Church. He is also patron of a happy death. We should invoke his protection often. His feast, kept on March 19, has been celebrated since the 15th century.
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.
God Bless BJS!!