December 2007 - Vol. 14
Jesus was born
in Bethlehem of Judea (Matthew 2:1)
Mary gave birth
to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him
in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
by Don Schwager
into the crypt inside the Church of the Nativity,
is built over the cave believed to be the place where Jesus was born in
Bethlehem of Judea (Matthew 2:1)
by Don Schwager
wonder! What mystery! God, who is eternal, unchanging, and unsearchable,
becomes visible, vulnerable, weak and helpless as a Jewish infant, born
of a virgin without human conception, now a son of Israel and the unknown
heir to David's throne. God, whose throne is in heaven amid a countless
host of angels, now takes up residence, not in Jerusalem's posh palace,
but in Bethlehem's hillside cave. Unguarded, unkept, such a cave would
be easy prey for villains and murderers, and jealous kings who wanted no
rival to their power and prestige.
Why would God
choose to become Israel's newborn Messiah King in a land occupied by hostile
intruders and false rulers? Only love can explain such a mystery since
God's ways are different from our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). He, the Exalted
One, condescended for the sake of the lowly and the oppressed. The Lord
descended not in pomp and majesty befitting a king, but in meekness and
lowliness to show us the way of perfect love. The only room for Jesus was
the cross he came to bear for our sins. In Jesus' lowly birth we see the
foreshadowing of the greatest sacrifice God would make for our sake when
his only begotten Son willingly embraced death on the cross for our salvation.
built over the spot believed to be the cave where Jesus was born
born in a cave at Bethlehem and his crucified body was laid to rest in
a cave outside Jerusalem. But no cave in the world could hold his glorified
and resurrected body from corruption. His lowly birth, his life of
selfless service, and his sacrificial death reveal the depth of God's love
love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the
world so that we might live through him (1 John 4:9).
so loved the world that he gave us his only Son that whoever believes in
him sould not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
|There is a
great paradox in the mystery of the Incarnation – the Son of God taking
on human flesh so that we might be clothed in his divinity. Scripture says
he became poor that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9) – rich not
in material things which pass away, but rich in the things that last forever
- eternal life and unending hapiness with the Triune God – Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit. The Incarnation is the mystery of this wonderful exchange.
marvelous exchange! Man's Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We
have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to
share our humanity. (Antiphon 1 of Evening Prayer for January 1st)
the town of Bethlehem