Yet that young woman, long centuries ago, found fulfillment in Bethlehem—in a baby placed in her arms. Everyone who saw her remembered her radiance, and after two thousand years we still remember it. Looking at Hannah as she looked at those babies, I could understand why. The effect on Hannah was long-lasting. She was changed—visibly changed and inwardly transformed. You could see it in her face and in her deeds. Months later, she organized a fund-raiser to send clothes to “her orphans” in Bethlehem. She had undergone a spiritual awakening, but still more than that. It was a kind of maternal awakening—a coming of age—a transition from being a little kid to caring for little kids. (p.5)
The family is the key to Christmas. The family is the they to Christianity. Pope saint John Paul II noted that everything good - history, humanity, salvation - "passes by way of the family." When God came to save us, he made salvation inseparable from family life, manifest in family life. Since the family is the ordinary setting of human life, he came to share it, redeem it, and perfect it. He made it an image and sacrament of a divine mystery. Salvation itself finds meaning only in familial relations."
Though the Gospel is certainly rich in allegorical meaning, it is first of all history. If there is allegory in the infancy narratives, it is fashioned by God, and not simply with words, but rather with creation itself—with the very deeds of sacred history. God writes the world the way human authors write words. Spiritual truths are everywhere to be found in the events at the beginning of the Gospels, but the events are nonetheless real and nonetheless important. They are no less historical for being extraordinary. To invoke Pope Benedict again: “If God does not also have power over matter, then he simply is not God. But he does have this power.”6 And so he can (and has) guided history and creation, just as he guided the prophets, to tell his story. (p. 20)
Saint Matthew’s first readers knew nothing of the field of genetics, but the title spoke still more loudly to them. To those first readers, the evangelist was suggesting a new Genesis, an account of the new creation brought about by Jesus Christ. In the fourth Gospel, Saint John accomplishes something similar when he begins by echoing the first words of the Torah: “In the beginning” (John 1:1; see Genesis 1:1). Saint Matthew introduces the same theme, though in a different way. The message in both is clear: with the arrival of Jesus, God brings about a new beginning, a new creation, a new Torah, and a New Testament. (p.24)
"Communication in the ancient world was mostly oral, and societies that rely on oral tradition look at knowledge and history far differently than do peoples accustomed to reading. [...] As second factor about oral cultures in the ancient Near East was their almost positive dislike for exact facts and specific dates. The common religious belief was that salvation and wholeness were to be found in a return to that first moment of creation when all things had been originally perfect. Between the day of creation and their own day, the history of the world had been one of sin and trouble, and failure. If history could only be overcome, and a leap made back past all the intervening events to the ideal beginning time, humanity could be healed and begin anew. [...] In this worldview, remembering the deeds and events, the facts and the dates, of the past year could be a block to achieving union with the moment of divine creation. [...]The actual details of historical events were far less important to an ordinary person of ancient times than was the pattern by which it was explained and the essential primeval event to which it was compared."
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