Saint Luke’s Presentation narrative effectively puts the lie to the recently popular “Late Epiphany Theory”

Presentation-in-temple

Today we hear the Gospel of Luke proclaimed, where we are treated to pertinent details of the Lord’s Presentation in the Temple, under the Mosaic Law, 40 days after Christmas:

And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord: As it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord: And to offer a sacrifice, according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons: And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon: and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel. And the Holy Ghost was in him. And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when his parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, He also took him into his arms and blessed God and said Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace: Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel. And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser. She was far advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years: who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day. Now she, at the same hour, coming in, confessed to the Lord: and spoke of him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel. And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth. (Luke 2:22-39)

epiphany

As of late, nearly every Christmas, we’re told by highly educated “experts” and “specialists” that the Magi/Wise Men didn’t make it to Bethlehem for a year or two after the birth of Christ, and that the Holy Family was likely living in a rented/borrowed house there when the Magi finally arrived.

Yet here we have Saint Luke, who had earlier testified, in writing, that everything he wrote was true, eye-witness testimony, told in the correct order:

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a narration of the things that have been accomplished among us, According as they have delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word: It seemed good to me also, having diligently attained to all things from the beginning, to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mayest know the verity of those words in which thou hast been instructed.  (Luke 1:1-4)

saintlukegospel

The Gospel of Saint Luke clearly states that Jesus was duly presented at the Temple 40 days after birth, according to the Law, and the Holy Family returned to Nazareth immediately afterward.

Catholic Tradition holds that the Magi arrived very shortly after the birth of Jesus – probably a couple of weeks (or less) after the blessed event. Not months or years later!

So, who are we to believe? Late-day progressive Bible critics who generally scoff at the concept of divine inspiration and supernatural inerrancy – or contemporary eye-witnesses to the actual events and circumstances in the life of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and others?

What do you think? 

Imitating Christ: How to Make Your Family Holy.

holyfam

The Holy Family of Jesus is the greatest example and model for all human families. The Holy Family, like our own, knew and experienced hardships and tensions.

We hear of one such episode in the Gospel which is the basis for both the third of the Seven Sorrows of Mary and the fifth of the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary; the loss and finding of the child Jesus at the Temple.

As we meditate on this passage of Sacred Scripture (cf. Luke 2:41ff), we can relate to the emotions that Mary and Joseph experienced, the anxiety and joy, in realizing that they did not know where their child was and then finding him safe and well at the Temple.

Going deeper, we can each, perhaps, see in our own life the times when we have left Jesus behind… the anxiety when apart and the joy and peace that comes when we have again found Jesus in the center of our family.

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“God sent forth his Son”

nativityscenewheavenlyhost

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

486     The Father’s only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is “Christ”, that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples. Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”

II. … BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY

487     What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ.

Mary’s predestination

488     “God sent forth his Son”, but to prepare a body for him, he wanted the free co-operation of a creature. For this, from all eternity God chose for the mother of his Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary”:

The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life.

489     Throughout the Old Covenant the mission of many holy women prepared for that of Mary. At the very beginning there was Eve; despite her disobedience, she receives the promise of a posterity that will be victorious over the evil one, as well as the promise that she will be the mother of all the living. By virtue of this promise, Sarah conceives a son in spite of her old age. Against all human expectation God chooses those who were considered powerless and weak to show forth his faithfulness to his promises: Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Deborah; Ruth; Judith and Esther; and many other women. Mary “stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from him. After a long period of waiting the times are fulfilled in her, the exalted Daughter of Sion, and the new plan of salvation is established.”

Pray the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus


Jesus publicly received his Holy Name
when he was presented at the Temple
and circumcised, under the Law

Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy, Jesus, hear us. Jesus, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on us (etc.)

Jesus, Splendor of the Father,

Jesus, Brightness of eternal Light,

Jesus, King of Glory,

Jesus, Sun of Justice,

Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary,

Jesus, most amiable,

Jesus, most admirable,

Jesus, the mighty God,

Jesus, Father of the world to come,

Jesus, angel of great counsel,

Jesus, most powerful,

Jesus, most patient,

Jesus, most obedient,

Jesus, meek and humble of heart,

Jesus, Lover of Chastity,

Jesus, our Lover,

Jesus, God of Peace,

Jesus, Author of Life,

Jesus, Model of Virtues,

Jesus, zealous for souls,

Jesus, our God,

Jesus, our Refuge,

Jesus, Father of the Poor,

Jesus, Treasure of the Faithful,

Jesus, good Shepherd,

Jesus, true Light,

Jesus, eternal Wisdom,

Jesus, infinite Goodness,

Jesus, our Way and our Life,

Jesus, joy of the Angels,

Jesus, King of the Patriarchs,

Jesus, Master of the Apostles,

Jesus, Teacher of the Evangelists,

Jesus, Strength of Martyrs,

Jesus, Light of Confessors,

Jesus, Purity of Virgins,

Jesus, Crown of all Saints,

Be merciful unto us, spare us, O Jesus!

Be merciful unto us, graciously hear us, O Jesus!

From all evil, deliver us, O Jesus!

From all sin, deliver us, O Jesus!

From Thy wrath, deliver us, O Jesus! (etc.)

From the snares of the devil,

From the spirit of fornication,

From everlasting death,

From the neglect of Thine inspirations,

Through the mystery of Thy holy Incarnation,

Through Thy Nativity,

Through Thine Infancy,

Through Thy most divine Life,

Through Thy Labors,

Through Thy Agony and Passion,

Through Thy Cross and Dereliction,

Through Thy Sufferings,

Through Thy Death and Burial,

Through Thy Resurrection,

Through Thine Ascension,

Through Thine Institution of the Most Holy Eucharist,

Through Thy Joys,

Through Thy Glory,

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, spare us, O Jesus!

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Jesus!

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Jesus!

Jesus, hear us, Jesus, graciously hear us

Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, Who has said: Ask and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: grant, we beseech Thee, to us who ask the grace of Thy most divine love, that we may love Thee with all our hearts, words and works, and never cease to praise Thee. Make us, O Lord, to have a continual fear and love of Thy holy Name; for Thou never ceasest to rule and govern those whom Thou doest solidly establish in Thy love. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. (Amen.)

Link

Loreto: The Holy House miraculously transported by angels to the place prepared for it by God.


Falling between the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe, is the feast of The Holy House of Loreto. Here, then, is Caravaggio’s Madonna of Loreto, an extraordinarily moving painting. Caravaggio painted it in 1604, when he was thirty-three years old.

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Since Bethlehem was St. Joseph’s Home Town, Why Couldn’t the Holy Family Have Stayed With Relatives?


Luke 2:1-7  And it came to pass that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.  This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria.  And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David.  To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass that when they were there, her days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her first born son and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger: because there was no room for them in the inn.

Q: Since Bethlehem was St. Joseph’s Home Town, Why Couldn’t the Holy Family Have Stayed With Relatives?

A: The short, simple answer is: They did stay with relatives.

Joseph and Mary were of the House of David. King David’s father Jesse, along with his whole family, were shepherds, who (about 800 years earlier) lived in and around Bethlehem. Their descendants still kept sheep on the rolling plains there, (as many still do.)

Who received the very first angelic notice of the birth of the Messiah? The shepherds … in fields … as they lay … keeping their sheep!

Who were the first to visit the Christ child? The shepherds! And compared to laying out in the exposed fields, the stable (carved out of the side of a nearby, rocky hill) was much warmer and more practical … even if it lacked certain amenities.

God is all about love and family, and it’s just like God to graciously remember these types of things, and to grant certain, special privileges to those he loves, according to his grace … and also in recognition of the merit of those who have gone before, who made a conscious, free will choice to cooperate with God’s grace, and do his will.

What greater privilege and blessing could there be for King David’s people?

Wikipedia has a good explanation of the genealogies of Mary and Joseph, as well as how and why the Blessed Virgin Mary would have married St. Joseph, even though both knew they would never consummate their marriage, in a carnal way. I generally don’t use Wiki as a source, but this explanation appears to be spot-on :

Now compare the 2 genealogies of Jesus in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38, and you’ll discover that Mary and Joseph were both of the tribe of Judah and descendants of David. Joseph descended through Solomon, the royal but cursed line, while Mary’s line was through Solomon’s brother Nathan.

Here’s the tricky part. Mary had no brothers, and so was entitled to inherit her family’s land as long as she married someone also descended from David. Joseph fit the bill and being in the royal line had a claim to the throne, but carried the blood curse. No biological son of his could ever legally qualify as Israel’s king, but Joseph could secure Mary’s right of inheritance.

When Mary accepted Joseph’s offer of marriage she preserved her family’s land and also made good her son’s claim to the throne of Israel. Jesus was in the royal succession through Joseph but escaped the curse since he wasn’t Joseph’s biological son. But He was a biological descendant of David’s through his mother and therefore of the “house and lineage of David.”

This whole issue revolves around the facts that a) God has bound Himself to His own laws and b) He keeps His word; facts that should give you great comfort. God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind (Num. 23:19). Legally, a virgin birth was required to produce a sinless man who would be qualified and able to serve as our Kinsman Redeemer, and God longed to redeem us. A virgin birth was also required to sidestep the blood curse on the royal line, fulfilling God’s promise to David that a biological descendant of his would sit on the throne of Israel forever.

As for explaining the “big picture” … nobody did it quite as succinctly as St. Paul … in Acts of the Apostles 13:16-39:

Then Paul rising up and with his hand bespeaking silence, said: Ye men of Israel and you that fear God, give ear.  The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers and exalted the people when they were sojourners in the land of Egypt: And with an high arm brought them out from thence:  And for the space of forty years endured their manners in the desert: And, destroying seven nations in the land of Chaanan, divided their land among them by lot.

As it were, after four hundred and fifty years. And after these things, he gave unto them judges, until Samuel the prophet.  And after that they desired a king: and God gave them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, forty years.  And when he had removed him, he raised them up David to be king: to whom giving testimony, he said: I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to my own heart, who shall do all my wills.

Of this man’s seed, God, according to his promise, hath raised up to Israel a Saviour Jesus:  John first preaching, before his coming, the baptism of penance to all the people of Israel.  And when John was fulfilling his course, he said: I am not he whom you think me to be. But behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

Men, brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you fear God: to you the word of this salvation is sent.  For they that inhabited Jerusalem and the rulers thereof, not knowing him, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath, judging him, have fulfilled them.  And finding no cause of death in him, they desired of Pilate that they might kill him.

And when they had fulfilled all things that were written of him, taking him down from the tree, they laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him up from the dead the third day.  Who was seen for many days by them who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who to this present are his witnesses to the people.

And we declare unto you that the promise which was made to our fathers, This same God hath fulfilled to our children, raising up Jesus, as in the second psalm also is written: Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee.  And to shew that he raised him up from the dead, not to return now any more to corruption, he said thus: I will give you the holy things of David, faithful.

And therefore, in another place also, he saith: Thou shalt not suffer thy holy one to see corruption. For David, when he had served in his generation, according to the will of God, slept: and was laid unto his fathers and saw corruption. But he whom God hath raised from the dead saw no corruption.

Be it known therefore to you, men, brethren, that through him forgiveness of sins is preached to you: and from all the things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. In him every one that believeth is justified.

If the first Christmas happened today …

Click here to watch the video