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Reflections on the Nativity

December 16, 2012

December 16, 2012, Gaudete Sunday

A sermon delivered to St. Joseph Fraternity, Hartford, as part of our  annual Christmas Creche devotion

My brothers and sisters in Christ: may the Lord give you Peace!

Today we follow the tradition established by our Father Francis of recreating the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, celebrating this fact in word and song. The first such celebration was in Greccio in 1223, and we have just heard the description of it by Thomas of Celano. As Celano noted, Francis himself preached to the people on that occasion. This sets the bar very high for me as I follow in his footsteps!

Celano tells us that Francis created the crèche in order to:

Recall to memory the little Child who was born in Bethlehem and set before our bodily eyes in some way the inconveniences of his infant needs. (Celano, First Life 84)

He did this so that the Gospel virtues might be seen clearly in the birth of Christ:

There simplicity was honored, poverty was exalted, humility was commended… (Celano 85)

Today I want to further explore the mysteries of the Nativity and the virtues that it illustrates. I want to do this by focusing on the actual birth of Jesus. St. Matthew tells us nothing about it: only that Jesus was born. St. Luke tells us a bit more about the birth itself: he says that

While they were there [in Bethlehem] the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger. (Luke 2:6-7)

However, we do know a little more from scripture. St. John had a vision of Mary giving birth: as he wrote in the Book of Revelation:

A great sign appeared…a woman, robed with the sun…she was pregnant and in labor, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth… (Rev 12:1-2).

Though part of a grander vision, this is surely an accurate description of the birth of Jesus, or indeed the birth of any child. Giving birth is a long and difficult process. This raises the question: who helped Mary give birth to Jesus? A woman does not give birth alone. Today in America, the process requires a obstetrician and supporting nurses, or at the very least a midwife. But in the past, and certainly in Palestine 2000 years ago, a woman would have given birth at home, attended by other women. Birth was quite literally, women’s work: men (perhaps gratefully) would have been banished to another room or outside.

Had Mary given birth at home in Nazareth, she would have been attended by her mother Anne, perhaps by her aunts or older cousins, or even by other women who lived nearby. But they all would have been mothers themselves, and could have explained to her what she was feeling, comforted her in the pain of labor, and helped her deliver her child.

But none of these women were present in Bethlehem that night. So who helped Mary give birth? Joseph? I don’t think so: as I said, the birth of a child was women’s work. So here we have Mary, a young girl (she was, perhaps, as young as 14 or 15), far from home, alone with her husband, about to give birth. Who was there to help her?

The gospel writers do not say, but it is easy to surmise who was there: perhaps the innkeeper’s wife or daughters. Maybe the Rabbi’s wife, or maybe just a few older women from the village who were considered skilled in birthing. Two or three women would have gathered in that stable. By the light of a lamp or a small fire they would have helped Mary, held her hand and wiped her brow, coached her through her contractions, and caught the infant Jesus as he came forth from her womb. These anonymous hands would have been the first to hold the infant Jesus! They did not realize the true nature of this precious child, but they would have cleaned him carefully, wrapped him in a blanket, and laid him on Mary’s breast. Their work complete, they would have gone home again. One of them probably brought the good news to Joseph that he had a son. Another would have sat for a while with Mary to make sure the bleeding had stopped, and to help Mary nurse her infant for the first time.

I call attention to these anonymous women—their names forgotten by history but surely present in Bethlehem and now blessed in Heaven—because they are a sure sign of the deeper meaning of the Incarnation. We do not know who they were, or even what their motivations were. Did they come willingly, to help a poor, frightened girl far from home? Did they come grudgingly, knowing that while it was necessary to spend the time, they would still have to be up early the next morning to care for their own families? Or did they do it for a few small coins that Joseph might have given them?

We do not know and I say that it really does not matter. What matters is that each of these women chose to be there. Each of them chose to help Mary give birth to her son. Each of them chose to be there as Jesus, the Son of God, was born into the world. Each of them chose to give of themselves to Mary, and through her to her son, Jesus. These were the first gifts given to the newborn king.

Usually, when we think of Christmas presents, we think of the Magi, who arrived some time later, bringing rich gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Or, in emulation of them, we think of blessed St. Nicholas, who brought gold to the father of three young women to provide their dowries. But these were merely material objects: rich and useful, but only things. Unlike these gifts, however, these anonymous women of Bethlehem gave of themselves. They had nothing else to offer Mary: no house, no bed, just a pile of straw in a stable. But they could be there with her, helping her, sharing in her suffering and then sharing in her joy as she gave birth to a son. This was compassion, and this was love. It was not love in the modern sense of an emotional feeling, however deep and stirring. They may have felt some affection and concern for this young girl in their charge, but she was still a stranger. No, it was not what they felt, but what they did: their love for Mary was an act of will. They chose to be present, to help her, to give of themselves as she gave birth.

In this love, in this act of will, we see a reflection of the love that God has for his creation, the love which is the real meaning of the Incarnation. In the beginning, God gave us life, creating us in His image. He loved us, and asked only that we love Him in return. And though we turned away from him, he continued to love us. Moreover, he revealed His love by an act of will: to show His love he gave us of Himself. As St. John put it:

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son (John 3:16).

In the Incarnation, in the birth of Jesus, God gave of Himself to us. Jesus chose to come among us. He chose to be born an infant, son of Mary, adopted by Joseph. Jesus chose to be one with us, to share in our sufferings and our joys. Jesus chose to take upon Himself our sins.

This is what Francis wanted to commemorate at Greccio. This is why, in that Church, on Christmas Eve 1223, simplicity was honored, poverty was exalted, [and] humility was commended: because Francis set before their eyes, and we continue to set before our eyes, the sacrificial love that God has for each of us.

In the anonymous women of Bethlehem, we see this love reflected, and we are called in our lives, both at Christmas and throughout the year, to share this love with our brothers and sisters. We may give presents, perhaps even expensive ones, to friends and family this year. But as Secular Franciscans we are called, like St. Francis, to follow the teachings and the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ (Celano 84), then we must give of ourselves. We must love one another as Jesus loves us. We must give of ourselves by an act of will. Not when we feel like it, or when it is convenient—and it is worth remembering that babies have never come at a convenient time—but when we are needed. We must love one another, not simply by feeling, but in giving. So my prayer for all of us this Christmas season is that each of us, by the grace of Emmanuel, God dwelling with us, we might, like these anonymous, holy women of Bethlehem, offer to God the one gift we are truly able to give, and love and serve the Lord in all those we meet.

And now please join with me in asking the intercession of the Blessed Mother, than through her prayers the words of scripture may always be in our heads, in our hearts and on our lips.

Hail Mary, full of grace….

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20 Comments
  1. Kerberos permalink
    December 16, 2012 8:03 pm

    “St. John had a vision of Mary giving birth: as he wrote in the Book of Revelation:

    A great sign appeared…a woman, robed with the sun…she was pregnant and in labor, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth… (Rev 12:1-2).

    Though part of a grander vision, this is surely an accurate description of the birth of Jesus, or indeed the birth of any child….”

    ## IM(V&D)HO – not *exactly*.

    Instead, ISTM (& I can’t take credit for the suggestion, beautifully simple as it is), the woman in Rev. 12 is the Bride who is the New Jerusalem. The reasons for this interpretation are probably too distant from the topic to be given here

    What does seem pretty certain,is that the woman is not the BVM herself. She was not in danger from a great red dragon symbolising satan, but from men. The Marian interpretation of Rev. 12 leaves out most of the detail in the chapter, & it ignores the connections between the verses of which the chapter & book are woven, and their OT sources. Michael is in that passage partly because of Daniel 10.13, 20;12.1: & also because of Isaiah 27.1 Expectant women are realities of this world; but angels, are not. Angels are real, but not as beings of this world. If they were of this world, they would not say “Fear not”, as they do, for they would be no more numinous than women or children, cats or dogs.

    Instead, on the supposition that she is the New Jerusalem (as against Babylon the Great, who is a blasphemous anti-Jerusalem/Rome, just as Beast One is a blasphemous Anti-Son of Man-Messiah/Caesar), it seems probable that she is in travail as described in John 16: IOW she is in travail until the Messiah is born. Who for the Apocalyptist & the Evangelist is Jesus Himself.

    The connection with Mary would then be, not that she is the woman of Rev.12 of whom BtG in Rev.17 is a satanic parody, but that the BVM, Mary of Nazareth, personifies features of the New Jerusalem, the City of God that comes down from Heaven adorned as a bride for her husband. Jesus is the True Israel (see John 15; Matthew 2; Psalm 80: 8-9 – & cf. v.8 with v.1 & both with John 10) so maybe Mary, the “daughter of Zion”, is the True Jerusalem, Jerusalem as it should be. If the description of the woman of 12 is based on art depicting Tyche or other winged divinities, that is a further objection to her being the BVM in person, but no objection to her being a cosmic figure depicted in ways that owe something both to the OT, and the “pagan” background of Biblical culture, which is full of winged divinities. There may be a recollection of the cherubim of the OT, and of the contexts in which they appear; the first is Gen.3.24, nine verses after 3.15, which is almost certainly at work in Rev.12

    ISTM that Revelation 12 is the Apocalyptist’s counterpart to the Matthean birth of Jesus.

    • Thales permalink
      December 16, 2012 9:44 pm

      Maybe I’m missing the point of the comment, but I don’t think anyone is saying that Rev.12’s account is the actual story of Jesus and the BVM. Obviously, Revelation is a symbolic work and passages in Revelation have multiple levels and multiple references. But I think it’s pretty clear that one of the references of Rev12’s woman is to the BVM.

      • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
        December 17, 2012 7:12 am

        Thanks Thales, this is pretty much what I was thinking.

      • Kerberos permalink
        December 17, 2012 10:28 pm

        “But I think it’s pretty clear that one of the references of Rev12′s woman is to the BVM.”

        ## It’s one thing to say that – and a quite another to say what a lot of Catholics say (Catholic Answers is one site that has had a few posts on this): that the woman in 12 is the BVM. It did look as if that is what the OP was saying – that the meaning of the woman in Rev. 12 is exhausted by equating her with the BVM. If the OP did not mean that he was identifying
        the woman in Rev. 12 with the BVM, that was hardly made clear. If a mere layman can be aware of how plenty of Catholics interpret the woman of Rev. 12, *a fortiori* a Franciscan (of all people !) should be even better informed.

        This is not the only exegesis of the woman in Catholic exegesis of that chapter (see Hilda Graef’s book “Mary” for more details); and it is hardly unusual: if it were, Rev. 12 would not be appointed as a reading for the Assumption, & the title of the Apostolic Exhortation “Signum Magnum” would make no sense. There may well be a reference to the BVM in Rev.12 (I even said so) – but even granting that there may be, that in no way settles the exegetical question of the manner in which there may be a reference to the BVM. In the 1814 edition of the NT of the Haydock Bible (the 1859 edition of which Bible is so popular among some conservative Catholics) a note on Rev.12 identifies the woman with the Church – not a word is said (IIRC) of the BVM. As is clear from Graef, the Marian interpretation is not the only one even in the CC.

        To say that there is a direct reference to the BVM in that figure, can’t just be asserted, but needs to be shown by exegesis of the chapter and the book. The argument from Catholic piety (my term, though Raymond Brown refers to the same thing in “The Birth of the Messiah”) is valueless here; what is wanted is the meaning of the text: not what Catholic piety for the last few centuries has taken it to mean. Catholics cannot wave Providentissimus Deus at Catholics who think like Fr. Raymond Brown (for whom the CC in the US cannot be thankful enough); and then, go on to complain that Catholics influenced by him don’t find the BVM all over Revelation 12. For, if as Leo XIII says, the Bible is to be taken as “[having] God for [its] Author”, then it must be treated with respect. even if respect for it entails not stuffing our own prepossessions (such as the BVM) into it. Rev.12 is about a lot more than the BVM, whether she is referred to or not. Quite apart from that question, the book deserves better than to be the dwelling-place of fanatics & fantasists – it is immensely important for the message of the NT, and very much deserves to be far better known, because it is essential to the meaning of the NT. If uninspired writings of mere men, politicians and the like, are given respect, far more does every book of the Bible, & of the NT especially, deserve the profoundest respect. Therefore, they deserve to be preached and interpreted intelligently & reverently, Revelation not least.

        A step in this direction is to avoid reading post-NT Catholic ideas into the text, and to read the text with close attention attention to the theology of the Book of Revelation, the theology of St. John, of the gospels, of the NT, their use of the OT, and an appreciation that the book (like the whole NT, though in a stricter sense) is apocalyptic. If after all that a reference to the BVM emerges from Rev.12, well and good – & if it doesn’t, well & good. There is no prospect of understanding the Bible, or any phrase of it, if all one does draw out of it the familiar ideas one has already put into it. Revelation is not about the BVM; the NT is not about the BVM; both are about Jesus Christ, & the BVM is simply not comparable to him, any more than Abraham or St. Peter are.

        • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
          December 18, 2012 7:02 am

          As the original poster, I want to point you to context: this was a sermon, delivered during a traditional Franciscan service, to a group of Secular Franciscans. It was not scriptural exegesis nor a detailed discussion of the theology of the Blessed Virgin. I was drawing upon a standard interpretation of Rev 12 to make a point about the physical aspects of the birth of Jesus. I am happy to acknowledge the multiple readings of the text, but they were not relevant for the task I was working on.

          In a word: please stop beating a dead horse.

  2. Kerberos permalink
    December 16, 2012 8:13 pm

    …IOW she is in travail until the Messiah is born. Who for the Apocalyptist & the Evangelist is Jesus Himself. But this scene is explicitly said to be “in heaven”; not on earth, as the Nativity was – another objection to an ID with the BVM. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews knew of the heavenly sanctuary of which the earthly sanctuary was a copy: the Apocalyptist also seems to be relying on the very ancient idea that earthly realities were copies or analogues of those in heaven. So the heavenly travail of the women of 12 would then be – in part – something of which the birth of Jesus to Mary is a or the earthly counterpart.

  3. David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
    December 17, 2012 7:20 am

    On a different note: after I gave this sermon at my fraternity meeting yesterday, a visitor came up to me with some critiques of it. He was quite deferential in his questions, but challenged me on two points:

    1) Since Mary was a “perpetual virgin” she could not have given birth through her birth canal.

    2) Since in Genesis labor pains are described as a consequence of original sin, and Mary was preserved from the stain of original sin, she would not have had labor pains.

    I responded that I had always interpreted perpetual virginity as never having sex—he was a bit discomfited that I mentioned “sex” and “Virgin Mary” in the same sentence. When I asked about how Jesus was born, he described it as an “angelic C-section.”

    I was aware of both of these traditional interpretations, but, truthfully, I have a hard time believing either. They seem to detract far too much from the essential humanity of Mary, elevating her to some quasi-divine status. I always thought of these as pious legends arising from the gentle (or not so gentle) misogyny of medieval clerics.

    • December 17, 2012 2:51 pm

      Thanks for the reflection David. I concu with your assessment.

      Mary was free from Original Sin, but she still suffered at the foot of the cross, and probably every time Jesus fell and skinned his knee. I see no reason to believe she couldn’t have suffered through the pains of childbirth on his account as well. However, knowing a little bit about midwifery and natural birthing techniques, it is likely that her integrity of body and soul and complete trust in God would have lessened the pain of her contractions.

      JPII ( I think, but it might have been B16) has said that the deeper meaning of virginity, which not to discount the “physical” meaning of it, is purity of heart. Mary is virginal in her sinlessness.

      • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
        December 17, 2012 5:10 pm

        Thanks Joshua. In my understanding of virginity, I was very much influenced by Augustine, who in the City of God argued forcefully that the virgins raped during the sack of Rome remained virgins. This question has come up in the past on various posts, but this notion of “purity of heart” seems to be the critical one.

        • trellis smith permalink
          December 17, 2012 7:01 pm

          Sorry if veering off topic, but my grandmother in giving me the facts of life told me that virginity isn’t something you have but something you don’t have.
          Virginity may be useful as a metaphor to describe the original creation state of grace and innocence found in Mary but also it has the detractions from her humanity you allude to and the harmful implications of sex negativity that still infects repressive sexual theological concepts of purity.

        • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
          December 17, 2012 8:03 pm

          Well, I am okay with Mary choosing to be chaste and a virgin in response to God’s call. I think that can be read without the sexual negativity you mention, though given the history of the concept it is something you have to work against.

          But what did your grandmother mean when she said that virginity was something you don’t have?

      • Thales permalink
        December 17, 2012 5:55 pm

        David,

        I concur with you also, and the views of your visitor are wacky (in my opinion). First, you’re right on for point 1. Also, if something like an angelic C-section happened (whatever that is), wouldn’t we have been told about it in the Gospels? After all, we hear about every other instance of angels and about every other little detail right down to the fact that Jesus was put into swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

        For point 2, the logic of your visitor’s position would require the visitor to say that Mary was also free from every other pain our non-preternatural bodies feel a consequence of original sin, like hunger, thirst, indigestion, headaches, being tired, and aging. That’s not the standard theological position on Mary. Instead, I seem to remember theologians making a distinction between being free from original sin, and having the preternatural body of the unfallen world free from pain and other effects of original sin — that these don’t go together by necessity, and so that while Mary was preserved from original sin, she still suffered the effects of living in a fallen world just like the rest of us (i.e., she still had a natural body that would feel hunger, would age, etc.) (Maybe I’m remembering the distinction from Aquinas’s Summa?) Also consider that we have another example of someone who we know is sinless AND who we know has a body that experiences the effects of original sin, like thirst: namely, Christ, who was like us in all ways but sin. So there’s nothing improper with having a person with no sin but who suffers the consequences of original sin — in fact, that’s kind of the whole point of Christ’s Incarnation and the Redemption, with Him taking on human flesh and suffering for us.

        Here’s another thought building off of Joshua’s point. In my opinion, it’s eminently appropriate if Mary suffered labor pains during the birth for this reason: Mary is Our Lady of Sorrows; through her witnessing of, and attendance alongside, Jesus’s life, Mary suffers constantly; she’s told that a sword will pierce her soul at Jesus’s Presentation, etc. In other words, Mary has an intimate connection to Jesus, and seems to be destined to feel sorrow and to suffer in her own way, alongside Jesus as Jesus pursues His ministry — and, in fact, to suffer as a result of Jesus pursuing his ministry in the way He does. In some mysterious way, Mary’s suffering is tied to Jesus’s ministry of suffering too. Because of this, I think it’s fitting that Mary would suffer alongside Jesus at perhaps the second most important event of His life (His birth) just as she did at the most important event of His life (His death).

        Finally, there’s the argument from Jesus’s perspective. Jesus is “like us in all things, but sin.” He takes on the human condition fully, and experiences all aspects of the human condition. Thus, it would be appropriate for him to experience natural human birth instead of a miraculous birth, just as he ate natural food and went to the bathroom naturally, and was not nourished and did not expel waste in some miraculous, non-natural, non-earthly-more-pure manner.

        • trellis smith permalink
          December 17, 2012 9:55 pm

          I would think it obvious David, sexual intimacy and ecstasy and the resultant children even maturity are rather difficult to achieve with virginity intact.

        • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
          December 18, 2012 6:54 am

          Okay, I guess I was being slow. Happens more often than I like.

        • elizabeth00 permalink
          December 18, 2012 12:43 pm

          David, perhaps she meant that virginity was a matter of heart’s desire – not something that could ever be grasped – a kind of mirror image of Christ as described in Phil 2:6.

          A mad, mad tangent here: I’m not sure we should characterize the “angelic c-section” idea and its variants on labor pains and bathroom visits, as the results of a Christianity inflected with fear of sex and sexual joy. Of course, there was some of that fear, but also a very well-developed sense of patterns in history and the natural world. I wonder if the essential point isn’t non-futility – a fullness of creativity and identity-held-in-relation – that takes the Eucharist as an interpretive key for human relationships and our subsistence in the natural world.

    • Melody permalink
      December 17, 2012 5:35 pm

      David, I agree with your comment, “… that I had always interpreted perpetual virginity as never having sex…” That’s the way most people would understand it. I also agree with Joshua that purity of heart is the main thing.
      My understanding of Genesis is not a literal thing. I’m more than a little uncomfortable with considering childbirth a “punishment” for sin. It’s ironic, but the verse (Genesis 3: 16) that some literalists use to justify the point of view that Mary never experienced normal childbirth (which she may or may not have, I don’t think it’s important that we know); is followed closely by these words, addressed to Adam: “By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, until you return to the ground.” I have never heard anyone say that Mary and Jesus didn’t have to work, because they were sinless; that the angels just brought them the necessities of life. Yet this verse would seem to paint work as a punishment for sin just as much as childbirth.

    • Kerberos permalink
      December 18, 2012 12:07 am

      STM miracles are utterly impossible in the natural order. As the BVM could not possibly bear a child, the Virginal Conception can only be a miracle. That it cannot possibly happen, makes this occurrence a miracle, and therefore, theologically valuable. If it had not been impossible – what is so miraculous about something that is merely vanishingly improbable ? Such thing happens all the time. What sort of Almighty God can’t do the impossible ? If He can create the universe, He can short-circuit the usual way by which men beget sons: by taking the man out of the equation. As here. The VC differs only in scale from the creation. If God can create, He can bring about the VC. Which is arguably a new creation anyway, since Jesus brings the re-birth of all things.

      “2) Since in Genesis labor pains are described as a consequence of original sin, and Mary was preserved from the stain of original sin, she would not have had labor pains.”

      ## I think this is non-sense. It regards the BVM as autonomous, as valuable, & thus, intelligible, by herself; whereas she is nothing without her Divine Son. Since He was not ashamed to undergo the pains that the rest of men (whose Saviour He is) undergo, she cannot be exempted from suffering either. So what if she was unstained by original sin ? So is He, because He is not less than God Incarnate – but she is a creature, nothing more. If she was not as genuinely subject to the woes of this life as He was, she is not really one with Him, and is not truly human, but only seems human.

      The Mary who is described uses her privileges to escape suffering. Unlike the Jesus of the NT. The Biblical Mary, & other versions of the Catholic Mary, are not let off any of the consequences of the Incarnation. This Mary, the one who suffered under the Cross, could hardly have been spared labour-pains. Why would she be spared them, when she was not spared the sight of her Son being crucified ? If “the servant is not above [her] master”, who is Mary to be spared what Jesus willingly suffers and requires of His followers ? If she is a member of the Church at all, she cannot be a member on special conditions. That would imply that all are not one in Christ. The logic of the idea is disastrous.

      “I responded that I had always interpreted perpetual virginity as never having sex—he was a bit discomfited that I mentioned “sex” and “Virgin Mary” in the same sentence.”

      ## STM that talking about a crucified Divine Messiah who took our human flesh upon Himself to die for our sins is far worse than that. Why should sex be embarrassing ? It is part of human nature – a nature which is God-given. It’s amazing that people squirm at the mention of the BVM & sex in the same sentence, when the Christian Faith is far more disgusting than that. To say that God has taken human flesh and become man and been crucified for sinners, is outrageously blasphemous – but it is central to the NT message.

      “When I asked about how Jesus was born, he described it as an “angelic C-section.””

      ## Jesus Christ is a man – not a semi-angel. That He is God Incarnate, does not make Him a whit less human than we are. That God needed milk, relied totally on a human mother for swaddling-clothes, came from a human womb, is important: the BVM did in reality a great many of the very things that are done to Christ when His followers perform the works of mercy on 25.31-46. The diff is, that she did them to Him in His Own Person. If we don’t insist on the genuine and honest humanity of God Incarnate, we risk overlooking how the BVM was granted what others had not received (Exodus 33.20; Isa.6) – it was Mary who was allowed, unlike them, to see His Face, & to bear Him, feed Him, clothe Him. To undermine the reality of that is to empty the Gospel of half its meaning.

      “I was aware of both of these traditional interpretations, but, truthfully, I have a hard time believing either. They seem to detract far too much from the essential humanity of Mary, elevating her to some quasi-divine status. I always thought of these as pious legends arising from the gentle (or not so gentle) misogyny of medieval clerics.”

      ## Those ideas are anti-Christian in their logic & implications. What do you think of the idea (doctrine ?) that He had the Beatific Vision from the moment of His conception ? IMO, it’s rubbish – likewise the idea that He did not have hope or faith. These ideas make Him humanly incredible. They give Him the cushy ride on earth that the NT denies Him.

      I don’t see how clerics with 0 knowledge of human embryology can possibly require belief in doctrines which presuppose, and depend upon, accurate knowledge of it. And to insist that such ideas be maintained after more accurate info is available, is exactly how Fundamentalists think.

  4. David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
    December 17, 2012 6:10 pm

    Melody and Thales, thanks for your insightful comments.

  5. smhruns4christ permalink
    December 18, 2012 11:23 pm

    Kerberos , I am concerned that there is some confusion on what was meant by the above refection. The story may or may not be true, but it is clear that the speaker was looking at the historical customs at the time (historical exegesis). The purpose of the reflection was to encourage us all to be receptive to christ and draw closer to him during this time of advent. In order to receive the complete gift of the message that God has for each of us through scripture it is important to be open to more than one form of exegesis. For we know that the scriptures are a living scripture. This is why we can read the same passage a different times in our lives and God can use a different piece of it as a revelation of himself to us so that we may draw closer to him. Is that not the reason God gave us the sacred texts.

    The main question here is how should one interpret Scripture/ Listen to this talk he does a good job at explaining the difference between how Catholics and protestants often interpret the scriptures:

    [audio src="http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/download/mp3/catholics_and_the_bible.mp3" /]

    Also you can look here in the catechism:

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c2a3.htm

    In the Holy Bible, we read, “If I (St. Paul) am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great…” [1 Tim. 15-16]
    (http://www.catholicdoors.com/misc/apologetics/pillar.htm)

    After listening to the above talk and reading the above articles I hope there is some clarity to why Catholic’s trust the Holy Mother Church that Christ instituted through Peter to lead his people to himself and in truth.

  6. trellis smith permalink
    December 19, 2012 3:58 pm

    @elizabethoo,
    You may be onto something Elizabeth, as all our new encounters are virginal in some aspect or meaning as well as anticipatory of creative potential.

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