Nativity of the Virgin Mary – Feast

Posté par diaconos le 8 septembre 2021

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From the Gospel according to Matthew

16 Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, from whom was begotten Jesus, who is called Christ. 17 The whole number of the generations is therefore: from Abraham to David, fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to Christ, fourteen generations. 18 Now this is how Jesus Christ was born: Mary, his mother, was given in marriage to Joseph; before they lived together, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit.

18 Now this is how Jesus Christ was born: Mary his mother was given in marriage to Joseph, and before they lived together she was with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 But Joseph, her husband, being a just man, did not wish to make a public accusation against her, and decided to send her away in secret. 20 While he was planning to do this, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, « Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home, for the child that is born in her is from the Holy Spirit;

21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus (that is, The Lord-savior), for he will save his people from their sins. » 22 All this happened so that the word of the Lord spoken by the prophet might be fulfilled: 23 « Behold, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which is translated ‘God-with-us’ (Mt 1, 1-16, 18-23)

Human and divine origin of the Messiah

The purpose of Matthew’s Gospel is to show the intimate and living relationship of the two covenants, to show in Jesus Christ the fulfilment of the whole history of his people.  This purpose was manifested by Matthew from the very first lines of his book, by that genealogy whose significance was marked by the two great names of David and Abraham; David, in whose family, according to prophecy, the one whose kingship would be eternal was to be born. Abraham, in whose seed all the families of the earth were blessed.

The Son of God came to take his place in this seed of Abraham and in our humanity, which he renewed. The blessing promised to Abraham was realised in his seed and consisted of a new creation, begun in the very person of the Deliverer. Hence a genealogy which was intended to establish his historical filiation. Matthew took particular care to rule out the paternity of Joseph, and he preserves the genealogy, going back to David and Abraham, and indicating the genealogical origin of Mary, mother of Jesus.

Joseph’s genealogy was not useless for any Israelite. Throughout his life, Jesus was regarded as Joseph’s son, and this was done in accordance with the highest standards of propriety. Joseph gave his adopted son a theocratic legal right to kingship, firstly because he was himself a descendant of David and secondly because, by marrying Mary who was heir to the family name, he legally entered into his wife’s line and took her name.

Matthew’s purpose was to establish the double origin of Jesus Christ, as revealed by the unanimous testimony of the New Testament, namely, his descent from David and at the same time his supernatural birth.  Jesus, the same name as Joshua Jehovah is Saviour. Christ, in Hebrew Maschiach, means Anointed One. In the Old Testament, this name indicated the royal dignity, because kings were anointed with oil, symbol of the Spirit of God, who were thus consecrated for their office. The same was true of the priests and prophets.
esus Christ, who, in order to realise the idea of the old covenant in the new, fulfilled these three offices, was the Lord’s anointed. He himself, by preaching from the very beginning of his ministry a kingdom of God of which he was the Head, gave to this notion all its truth and spirituality. In his Church, the title Christ gradually became a proper name, but without losing any of its high significance. It is not without intention that the sacred writers sometimes call him Jesus, sometimes Christ, or give him the double name of Jesus Christ, as the Gospel according to Luke does from the first line.

The exegetes took great pains to find the division according to which Matthew established these three series of fourteen generations. The generations of the first period, from Abraham to David, were listed without omission; they are fourteen. In the second period, Matthew subtracted four kings of Judah: Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, between Jehoram and Uzziah, and Jehoiakim, between Josiah and Jechonias. The third series, consisting largely of unknown names, was not taken from biblical sources and included only thirteen names.

Another peculiarity of this genealogy is the mention of four women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bath-Sheba. Matthew’s intention was to point out that these women were only admitted by a very exceptional dispensation to the honour of being counted among the ancestors of Jesus, their natural situation seeming to exclude them absolutely. The economy of grace was thus shown to be in germ in the Old Covenant.

Matthew’s purpose in recapitulating the members of the genealogy in three series of fourteen was to bring out God’s plan in the way he conducted the destinies of the chosen people. Fourteen generations had succeeded one another from Abraham, to whom the promise was made, to David, to whom it was renewed, with the statement that Jesus was born of his seed. Fourteen generations succeeded one another from the foundation of the theocratic kingship until its collapse at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

This quality of righteousness attributed to Joseph imposed on his conscience two contradictory duties, sources of painful struggles. On the one hand, he could not marry Mary, not knowing or not believing the mystery of her pregnancy; on the other hand, he did not want to expose her publicly to ignominy and even less to the rigours of the law, which pronounced the death penalty in this case. He therefore resolved to separate from her secretly, probably by a letter of divorce which would not have indicated the cause of the separation.

In this way Mary would have escaped the penalty prescribed by law and public proceedings, but not the opprobrium of her situation. Humbly resigned to all the will of God, will she be abandoned by Him in this trial? No. This quality of righteousness attributed to Joseph imposed on his conscience two contradictory duties, sources of painful struggles. On the one hand, he could not marry Mary, not knowing or not believing the mystery of her pregnancy; on the other hand, he did not want to expose her publicly to ignominy and even less to the rigours of the law, which pronounced the death penalty in this case.

He therefore resolved to separate from her secretly, probably by a letter of divorce which would not have indicated the cause of the separation. In this way, Mary would have escaped the penalty prescribed by law and public proceedings, but not the opprobrium of her situation. Was she humbly resigned to all the will of God and abandoned by Him in this trial? No. This term son of David reminded Joseph of the promises made to the house of that king of Israel, which were fulfilled. His faith in the Word of God helped him in his doubts.

This divine fact was revealed to Joseph by an angel of God, with the special purpose of dispelling all his doubts. Of or by the Holy Spirit indicates the efficient cause of Jesus’ human existence. This Spirit of God who « moved over the waters » of chaos to create life and harmony, this Spirit, the source of all existence, was the agent of the miracle by an act of his own creative power.

The Church has always believed in this miracle, not only because it is so simply recounted in Luke’s Gospel as a historical fact, but because it is a necessary fact in the divine work of the redemption of the world. Whoever believes with St. John that the eternal Word was made flesh, that the Son of God became the son of man, that Jesus Christ was perfectly holy, that, as the second Adam, He was the origin of a new humanity, will also admit that it took this unique exception in our corrupt race to break the filiation of natural generations.

Redemption, which is a new creation, could not come out of our humanity, though it had to be accomplished in it by a being who was part of it. To save from sin means first to deliver from the consequences of that sin, that is, from condemnation and death ; then, from the power of sin, from bondage, through the gift of freedom and new life.

Thz Deacon Michel Houyoux

Additional information

◊   Thz Deacon Michel Houyoux :clik here to read the paper → Feast of Christ’s nativity

Links to other Christian websites

◊ Nativity  : clik here to read the pâper →  LITURGICS>ORTHODOX PRAYERS

◊ Antiochian Ortthodix Christian  : clik here to read the pâper → CHRISTIAN – ARCHDIOCESE OF NORTH AMERICA

  Is the Face of Jesus Christ a True Image?

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