Something to remember

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Submitted by Bob Stanley

The Nativity of Christ: Its Historic Reality

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The fact is that after centuries of trying to cast doubt on the reality of Christ’s Incarnation into this world, we must say that all the evidence, when carefully examined, indicates that Christ lived in a definite time and place. He was who he said he was. No other explanation suffices to account for the evidence. The effort to show that Christ was unreal or something else has failed.

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The Vatican’s official English-language translation of Pope Francis’ prepared homily, to be delivered in Italian, during Christmas Eve Mass

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“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”(Is 9:1).

This prophecy of Isaiah never ceases to touch us, especially when we hear it proclaimed in the liturgy of Christmas Night. This is not simply an emotional or sentimental matter. It moves us because it states the deep reality of what we are: a people who walk, and all around us – and within us as well – there is darkness and light. In this night, as the spirit of darkness enfolds the world, there takes place anew the event which always amazes and surprises us: the people who walk see a great light. A light which makes us reflect on this mystery: the mystery of walking and seeing.

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A few extra-biblical things you probably didn’t know about St. John the Baptist

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When King Herod heard from the Magi about the birth of the Messiah, he decided to kill all the infants up to two years old at Bethlehem and the surrounding area, hoping that the new-born Messiah would be among them.

Herod knew about John’s unusual birth and he wanted to kill him, fearing that he was the foretold King of the Jews. But Elizabeth hid herself and the infant in the hills. The murderers searched everywhere for John. Elizabeth, when she saw her pursuers, began to implore God for their safety, and immediately the hill opened up and concealed her and the infant from their pursuers.

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Editor’s note: We know from scripture that St. John the Baptist was born during Passover, in the spring. We also know that St. John was conceived and subsequently born 6 months before Jesus Christ – meaning that Jesus was most likely born in the month of September or October. (Add 6 to 3 or 4 and you get September or October – NOT December.)

But Jesus may well have been conceived in late December, so there’s still plenty of reason for joy. Plus – there have been a number of modifications (not to mention outright errors and “slippage”) to the calendar over the years, so December 25 may be correct, after all!

Merry Christmas! 

Emmanuel (God with us): Why the real presence of Jesus Christ is so important for proper worship.

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by Doug Lawrence

From all eternity, up until the physical conception and subsequent birth of Jesus Christ … in the flesh … man perceived God as a mysterious, awesomely powerful, largely unknowable being, whose divine essence was thought to consist of pure spirit.

Christmas fundamentally changed man’s perception of God as well as the reality of his divine person-hood,  since we know now that God, as part of his true nature … assumed a distinctive, eternal, human soul, along with a (now) resurrected and glorified human body. A body that is presumably … fully compatible with both heaven and earth.

So, after Jesus’ relatively short, earthly human existence was complete, it would have been quite appropriate, as well as completely truthful, to exclaim, “My God, how you’ve changed!”

The terms of God’s New Covenant substantially incorporate and memorialize that profound change in many ways, none more important than the definitive liturgical sacrifice of the New Covenant … the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass … where the memorial symbolism of the traditional Hebrew Passover Feast is replaced by the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ … the true Lamb of God … who takes away the sins of the world.

Jesus did that … just as he subsequently suffered and died for us … in the flesh … and as one of us, in every way … except for sin.

Hence, from that moment forward, anyone who desires to fully worship Jesus Christ … in spirit and truth … i.e. “body and spirit” … can no longer be fully satisfied with his spiritual presence alone, despite the way some choose to interpret the following passage:

Again I say to you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:19-20)

It’s very nice to know that God is listening to our prayers, and that he is there for us, whenever we gather in his name, but the difference (to we human faithful) between God being present in a purely spiritual sense and being  truly physically present for us … body, blood, soul and divinity … as in the Holy Eucharist … is a difference of such magnitude that it is impossible to put into words.

If it wasn’t for the incarnation, where God took on flesh and became one of us, in order to save us from our sins and reconcile heaven and earth, we would all still be hopelessly enslaved to Satan, sin and death.

Catholics incorporate all of this and more into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the essential liturgy given to us by Christ himself, at the Last Supper, where we give correct praise and proper worship to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit … with, in and through Jesus, who is the perfect mediator and who remains the only acceptable sacrifice for sin … becoming truly present for us on the altar, at every Mass.

Presented with a sacrifice such as this, we can be assured that God will always find it pleasing and acceptable, and that he will graciously respond, even in the face of our many iniquities and human failings, since at least one of us humans present there (Jesus) has already attained divine perfection.

Without Jesus Christ, truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity … God with us … at the very center of our divine worship … we miserable sinners have very little to offer up to God. But at Mass … with Christ, in Christ, and through Christ … in the unity of the Holy Spirit … we have the ability to invariably please God, become the recipients of all his graces … and successfully maintain in our hearts the blessed hope of spending an eternity with him, in heaven.

Attempting to worship God any other way begs the question: Why would God have gone to all the trouble of becoming man, instituting the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, becoming a living sacrifice for the sins of the world, rising again from the dead and personally founding his one holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, if not to have things done the way he set them up?

Why indeed!

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Christmas is the day God permanently and eternally perfected mankind, in and through his son, Jesus Christ.

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From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

520     In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is “the perfect man”, who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.

521     Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us. “By his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man.” We are called only to become one with him, for he enables us as the members of his Body to share in what he lived for us in his flesh as our model:

We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus’ life and his mysteries and often to beg him to perfect and realize them in us and in his whole Church… For it is the plan of the Son of God to make us and the whole Church partake in his mysteries and to extend them to and continue them in us and in his whole Church. This is his plan for fulfilling his mysteries in us.

The sign of swaddling clothes: A live baby wrapped up – as if for burial …

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The mystery of the newborn Christ as wrapped in swaddling clothes, that is, a live baby as wrapped up as if for burial, pre-foretells the resurrection when Christ would set aside His swaddling clothes, His burial shroud, when He awoke from the sleep of death in His glorified body.

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Seen on the web:

The Middle Eastern culture developed a way to deal with in-journey deaths. Each person would take a long, thin, gauze-like cloth and wrap it around their waist many times. This would be one of the bottom layers of clothing. This cloth would be reserved for death. If someone died during the journey, their friends or family would remove the “swaddling cloth” and wrap them from head to toe so they could compete the journey.

The baby Jesus was wrapped in Joseph’s death cloth. The sign for the shepherds wasn’t that they’d find a baby wrapped in a blanket in a manger. The sign was that they’d find a baby prepared for death. Jesus came to earth to die for our sins. That was his purpose. This was shown even from the instance of his birth.

What a God.

Lana said…

So the baby Jesus was wrapped in the death clothes of a man named Joseph, and thirty three years later was buried in the tomb of a man named Joseph?

You’re right. What a God.