Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Jesus' Humble Birth

For Christmas I want to share with all my friends my thoughts on the meaning of being a Christian living in a secularizing society here in America. The following is taken from various sources and properly referenced with my thoughts following them. Any emphasis in bold are mine:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled (Luke 2:10). Now we can see clearly that this decree of the Roman Emperor’s was part of God’s providence. It is the reason why Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem, and Jesus was born there as had been prophesied many centuries before (Mic 5:2). Our Lady knew that Jesus’ birth was about to take place and she set out on that journey with her thoughts centered on the Child who was to be born of her in the town of David. They came to Bethlehem, both with the joy of having reached the place of their ancestors and with the tiredness caused by traveling along badly-made roads for four or five days. In her condition, Our Lady must have been very tired when she arrived. And in Bethlehem they could not find anywhere to stay. There was no place for them in the inn (cf Luke 2:7), says St. Luke briefly, perhaps Joseph judged that the crowded inn was not a suitable place for Our Lady, especially in those circumstances. St. Joseph must have knocked on many doors before taking Mary to a stable on the outskirts of the town. We can well imagine the scene: Joseph explaining time and again with growing anxiety, the same story, that they had come from …, and Mary a few feet away seeing Joseph and hearing the refusals. They did not let Christ in. They shut the doors on Him. Mary feels sorry for Joseph and for those people. How cold the world is towards its God! Perhaps it was Our Lady who suggested to Joseph that they could stay provisionally in one of those caves, which served as stables outside the own. She probably encouraged him, telling not to worry, that they would manage … Joseph would feel comforted by Mary’s words and her smile. So they made their lodging there with the few belongings they had been able to bring from Nazareth: the swaddling clothes, some items that she herself had prepared with that joy that only mothers can experience when they prepare for their first child. It was there that the greatest event of humanity’s history took place, with the utmost simplicity. And while they were there, St. Luke tells us, the time came for her to be delivered (Luke 2:6). Mary lovingly wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger. The Virgin had a more perfect faith than any other before her or since. All her gestures were an expression of her faith and her tenderness. She would have kissed His feet because He was her Lord, His cheek because He was her Son. She would have remained quietly contemplating him for a very long time. Later Mary placed the Child in Joseph’s arms. Joseph well knows that his Son of the Most-High, whom he must care for, protect and teach a trade. Joseph’s whole life centers around this defenseless Child. Jesus, newly born, does not speak; but He is the eternal Word of the Father. It has been said that the manger is a Chair of learning. Today we should learn the lessons which Jesus teaches us, even when he is just a newly born child, from the very moment He opens His eyes on this blessed land of men (St. Josémaria Escrivá, Christ is passing by). He is born poor, and He teaches us that happiness is not to be found in an abundance of earthly goods. He comes into the world without any ostentation, encouraging us to be humble and not to depend on the applause of men. God humbled Himself to allow us to get near Him, so that we could give our love in exchange for His, so that our freedom might bow, not at the sight of His power merely, but before the wonder of His humility (St. Josémaria Escrivá, Christ is passing by). We make a resolution to live the virtues of detachment and humility. We look at Mary and we see her filled with joy. She knows that a new era has begun for humanity – that of the Messiah, her Son. We ask her never to let us lose the joy of being beside Jesus.

(Fr. Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God Vol. 1, 30.1)
Detachment and humility, two things we can take away from Our Lord and Saviors birth. He was born into poverty, in a humble cave called the manger. This Christmas we need to recognize the humble and poor beginnings that the baby Jesus was born into; and which also characterized His ministry throughout His time among us. When Satan has thus far continues to successfully commercialize Christmas with ostentatious and bacchanal materialism, we as Christians need to embrace poverty in order to grow more in humility. To counter Satan and his misguided followers. Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them "renounce all that [they have]" for his sake and that of the Gospel (Luke 14:33; cf. Mark 8:35). Shortly before His passion He gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on (cf. Luke 21:4.) The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven (CCC 2544). That can’t be anymore clearer in my opinion. Remember the Tenth Commandment, You shall not covet . . . anything that is your neighbor's. . . . You shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's (Exodus 20:17; Deut 5:21). The Tenth Commandment forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power (CCC 2551). Also remember, "Blessed are the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3)" The Beatitudes reveal an order of happiness and grace, of beauty and peace. Jesus celebrates the joy of the poor, to whom the Kingdom already belongs (Cf. Luke 6:20) (CCC 2546). The Lord grieves over the rich, because they find their consolation in the abundance of goods (Luke 6:24). "Let the proud seek and love earthly kingdoms, but blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven (St. Augustine, De serm. Dom. in monte 1, 1, 3: PL 34, 1232.)”. Abandonment to the providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow (Cf. Matthew 6:25-34). Trust in God is a preparation for the blessedness of the poor. They shall see God (CCC 2547). Mary had great joy in heart in the coming birth of Our Lord! To detach oneself from earthly treasures is to be happy! The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it (CCC 1718). St. Augustine tells us: We all want to live happily; in the whole human race there is no one who does not assent to this proposition, even before it is fully articulated (De moribus eccl. 1, 3, 4: PL 32,1312). How is it, then, that I seek you, Lord? Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you (Conf. 10, 20: PL 32, 791). God alone satisfies (St. Thomas Aquinas, Expos. in symb. apost. I). Christmas is a time of joy. We need to remind ourselves who that source of joy emanates from. That would be Jesus. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21). Merry Christmas to all of my readers! Tito Post ad hoc: I apologize for the heavy annotation, I just want to properly give credit where credit is due. 95% of this posting are excerpts from these various postings. The vast majority of credit is deservedly given to them. Sources: -Holy Bible -In Conversation with God vol. I, 30.1, Fr. Francis Fernandez -Christ is passing by, St. Josémaria Escrivá -Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) -De serm. Dom. in monte 1, 1, 3: PL 34, 1232., St. Augustine of Hippo -De Moribus Ecclesiæ Catholicæ 1, 3, 4: PL 32,1312., St. Augustine of Hippo -Conf. 10, 20: PL 32, 791., St. Augustine of Hippo -Expos. in symb. apost. I., St. Thomas Aquinas

4 comments:

Esther said...

Very good Tito! I look forward to reading more so thanks for posting the references too. BTW, I want to wish you a very merry and blessed Christmas!

Tito said...

Thank you Esther for your kind comments.

Mele Kalikimaka!

Tito,
Great post! The spirit of detachment is not only important in regard to material goods, but also to personal relationships as well. Although I am a wife, I find joy in wearing the mantilla to Mass to remind me of my eternal Spouse - in this way, I am detached from my husband, in that he belongs first and foremost to God and not to me. The same goes for my son. Whenever I ask the Blessed Mother for her intercession, I always refer to my son as "our" son, for truly she is more his mother than I will ever be, even though I bore him in my womb. Yes, detachment is very important!

Tito - you have such a great blog. Thank you for spreading the Gospel this way.

Maligayang Pasko!

Tito said...

David & Connie,

Mele Kalikimaka to your growing family!

Thank you for your kind comments. I hit a home run every once in awhile, this one was originally part of a three part series. I stopped at the first one since I ran out of time (had to prepare for Christmas)!

I never saw the wearing of the mantilla that way. Thank you for that wonderful insight. That brings a certain amount of respect to my sisters in Christ and their persuit of humility and detachment.

I personaly just shave my hair off (that was a joke).

God bless.

In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

Tito

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