|The star under the
altar of the grotto below the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is the spot
believed to be where Christ was born.|
goes into more detail. In those days a decree went out from Caesar
Augustus that a census of the whole world should be taken. The first census took place when Cyrinus was
governor of Syria. So all went to be
enrolled, each to his own town. And
Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city
of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of
David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they
were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her
firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:1-7).
Nativity Church off of Manger Square in
the Father kept His promise to mankind, whom He created according to His image
and likeness (Genesis 1:26). He loves us
so much that He sent His only begotten Son to become one of us in every way
except sin to teach us how to live and save us from our sins so that we may
have life everlasting in Heaven. Thus every
single human being has great dignity.
the birth of Christ has a central place not only in salvation history, but in world
history as well…..so much so that our measurement of time uses His birth as a
reference point……BC (Before Christ) and AD (After Christ). Actually the calendar is not completely
accurate. Christ was born in 3 BC. The evidence points to His being born in the
Spring. The early Church chose December
25 to coincide with the pagan feast celebrating the return of the sun as the
days have more and more light. Christ is
the light of the world.
Today over 2000 years later shepherds still tend
their sheep near Bethlehem.
Now there were shepherds in that
region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and
the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great
angel said to them, "Do not be
afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for
all the people. For today in the city of
David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will
find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was a multitude of the
heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth
peace to men of good will"(Luke 2:8-14).
When the angels went away from them
to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place,
which the Lord has made known to us."
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in
they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this
child. All who heard it were amazed by
what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and
praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them (Luke 2:15-20).
The manger is actually a feeding trough for farm animals.
We are having Mass in the Shepherds’ Cave. Two Polish priests accompanied our group 42, Fr.
Jan Czaja at the altar and Fr. Robert Głuchowski at the
pulpit. Each day we had Mass in a
different holy place. The Franciscans,
as custodians provided the vestments, hosts, etc.
the time shepherds were looked down upon as among the lowest in society. God shows His great love for the poor by choosing
lowly shepherds to be the very first to receive the wonderful news of the long
awaited Messiah’s birth. It shows that
Christ identified Himself with the Jews and also with the poor. This gives them great dignity.
The above photo was
taken from our hotel window in Bethlehem, which means in Hebrew, “House of
Bread”. In Christ’s time we could sing
“O little town of Bethlehem”, but not today.
Bethlehem is a densely populated Palestinian city of about 220,000
people 6 miles south of Jerusalem. This
is a tremendous difference from what I saw on my first visit in 1962 when
Bethlehem was a small town. There were
practically no buildings leading to the top of the hill. Predominately Muslim, only 12% are
Christian. On the top of the hill is
Manger Square and Nativity Church.
The photo on the right shows the wall outside of Bethlehem that the Israeli government constructed along its border with Palestine to keep terrorists from crossing over into Israel. Arabs, who live on one side or the other and must cross over for their jobs, often spend an hour going through the checkpoint. Palestinians and Israelis have been in conflict for almost a century. Let us pray to the Prince of Peace for harmony in the Holy Land and peace on earth.
(50) Meditations For the Rosary I:
The 3rd Joyful Mystery, The Nativity.
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