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Showing posts from December, 2011

The Nativity

The story of Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem, not finding a room at the inn and Mary giving birth in a stable/cave is a continuation of the Christmas story we hear every year (refer to previous posts).

There is much written about how Christ humbled himself to be born in a stable, there was no room, etc. What has always puzzled me about the "surprise" in all this is that being born in a stable or whatever and wherever was probably very common at the time of Christ's birth. They didn't have hospitals like many of us have today. Most births were probably at home (and not in an inn either) for rich and poor alike at that time. The wealthy Romans would have had more luxurious surroundings but essentially all children were born at home. If a woman was fortunate, a midwife was called in, but most often, other women were asked to come help a woman when her time to deliver came to be. If it was in the desert, the baby was probably born in a tent; a shepherd's child mig…

The Visitation

Mary's visit to Elizabeth is another part of the Christmas story we hear every year. Again, how does this reflect on me and us today?
It must have been discomfiting to Mary's parents for her to take off in what, according to Scripture, was a sudden manner. Mary was probably needed to help with chores in her own household and travel was an expense that her family might not have been able to afford. In addition, she was betrothed to Joseph. Did her parents think it was a little odd that after a betrothal she takes off when she should have been preparing for her marriage? Did they question her? Try to keep her from going? We'll never know but these are things I would ask my own children. Here's what it would probably sound like:
Me: Congratulations on your engagement! Why are you packing?
Kid: I'm going to visit my cousin--the one who lives half-way around the world (that is about the distance to Elizabeth's house in Mary's time comparitively speaking).
Me: You…

The Annunciation

Due to my Catholic upbringing I am well aware of what is called the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary. The idea is to meditate on 5 different events in Jesus' and Mary's life. Often we are encouraged to see how those events are relevant to us today, besides the obvious, so here goes...

The Annunciation:

Every Christmas season we here in the Gospel the story of the archangel Gabriel appearing to Mary with the message, "Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you." From that moment on, Mary's life changed in ways she couldn't have imagined.

But how did this occur? None of us will ever know for sure. There are numerous paintings from some of the greatest artists of the event. Most of them picture Mary kneeling in prayer looking up at Gabriel hearing his message. I'm always puzzled by those paintings. Mary came from a life of peasants. The idea that she would have time during her day to sit/kneel and meditate seems very unlikely. It is much more likely that G…