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The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
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  • Feast Day: December 25th

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ refers to the accounts of the Birth of Jesus.  This is based primarily on the two accounts in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.  The Canonical Gospels of Luke and Matthew describe Jesus being born in Bethlehem, in Judea, to a Virgin Mother named Mary.  Luke features the Christmas story, in which Joseph and Mary, as part of a census, travel to Bethlehem.  It is there, that Jesus is born in a manger.  

Angles proclaim him a savior for all people, and shepherds come to adore him.  In Matthew, wise men follow a start to Bethlehem to bring gifts to Jesus, born the “King of the Jews”.  King Herod orders the massacre of all the toddler boys in Bethlehem, in an attempt to kill Jesus, but the holy family flees to Egypt and later settles in Nazareth.  The main religious celebration among members of the Catholic Church is the Church Service on Christmas Eve, generally midnight Mass, or on the morning of Christmas Day.  During the forty days leading up to Christmas, we begin observing the liturgical season of Advent, four Sundays before Christmas.  This is a time of spiritual cleansing, recollection and renewal to prepare for the celebration of the Birth of Jesus.  

The Nativity of Jesus shows the Incarnation of Jesus as God made Man, in fulfillment of the Divine Will of God, undoing the damage caused by the fall of the first man, Adam.  Artistic depiction of the Nativity has been a major subject for Christian artists since the 4th century.  The Nativity scene has emphasized the humility of Jesus, and has been celebrated since the 13th century.  

The accounts of the Nativity of Jesus in the New Testament appear in only two of the four Canonical Gospels, namely the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew.  Luke’s story takes place mostly before the birth of Jesus and centers on Mary, while Matthew’s story takes place mostly after the birth of Jesus and centers on Joseph.  The other Canonical Gospels, the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of John, begin their narratives of Jesus’s life in his adulthood.  Both mention him coming out of Galilee and John mentions the name of Jesus’s father, but neither John or Mark give any other details of His life prior to adulthood.  The betrothal of Jospeh and Mary and the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem appear in both Matthew and Luke.  Luke includes several events prior to the birth of Jesus that do not appear in Matthew; the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, while Matthew alone discusses the Flight to Egypt after his birth.  The Nativity accounts in the New Testament are generally viewed as ending with “Finding Jesus in the Temple” several years later, after the family has returned to Galilee.  

Christmas has been celebrated in the United States since it’s founding.  Today, most Catholic Families celebrate by decorating a Christmas Tree, and wrap gifts to give to family and friends.  It is is generally centered around the family gathering for a meal and celebration on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  It is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics to attend Mass on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.