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Joy to the World > Chapters 1 thru 4

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message 1: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
Summary

Chapter 1: “A Light Goes On In Bethlehem”
Using his daughter’s love of children, Hahn locates the Christmas story as wrapped in the human institution of the family.

Chapter 2: “What Happens in Bethlehem…”
Hahn provides the justification that the Gospel’s recounting of Jesus’ birth is history and not fable or folklore.

Chapter 3: “A New Genesis”
Hahn distinguishes the different objectives between Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels, especially considering the differences in genealogies.

Chapter 4: “The Counterfeit Kingdom”
Hahn details the expectations at the time of the imminent coming of the Messiah.


message 2: by Manny (last edited Dec 09, 2018 09:28AM) (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
How unexpected to start the Christmas story with Hahn’s twelve year old daughter, having a baby placed in her arms.

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)


I’m just curious. Since we have so many women in this book club, do any of you remember the first time an infant was placed in your arms and did it have some maternal effect on you?


message 3: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1314 comments Mod
I don't remember the first time I held a baby. But of course I remember the first time I held my boys. Our first-born I remember more vividly. There is a sense of awe that can't be put into words. Here you are, carrying this child nine months under your heart and you can hardly wait to meet him in person. And when you do there is joy and gratitude beyond everything experienced before. There is also a deep sense of completeness, that you've arrived at a place where you are supposed to be.


message 4: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1314 comments Mod
Chapter 1
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."


These are powerful words. In our hyper-individualized culture they are not only counter-cultural but subversive. One could go on and on how the family is torn apart these days, not just by the glossing over and dismissal of virtues, or the clumsy attempts to re-definine what a family is, but also the realities of job transfers, insufficient pay to provide for a family, etc. Despite all of this, the blood bond of the family is stronger than any ideology or fad to undermine it, for it is God's creation. We see it every Thanksgiving when more people travel home than at any other time of the year. There is a reason why Hallmark movies are as popular as they are, for family and community always win, and you never have to worry the kids will see something inappropriate for their age.

We all seek family. It is written in our hearts.


message 5: by Colleen (new)

Colleen (colleenisterrific) | 21 comments Hi all! Back from a very long hiatus and hoping to pop in and out of here as my reading time is sporadic.

The first time I ever held a baby was actually my newborn daughter. We never had any small children growing up in our family, so she was my first experience. A "maternal awakening" it was!!

I loved how the book opened talking about the family dimension. Since having my daughter, I have definitely taken on a new devotion to the Holy Family. I never really understood the dynamic of the Holy Family until my husband and I made our own with our daughter (who just turned 1 last month!)


message 6: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1314 comments Mod
Nadine wrote: "I love the genealogy explanation bit, especially highlight the differences between them and what they meant. I truly love seeing things from the eyes of the Jewish people of the day."

I do too! The first time I read an explanation of this it was such an eye opener. And every time one learns more about the Jewish dimension of the first century the Gospel opens up in a whole new way.


message 7: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
Great comments all. Nadine, I may have once known about the genealogy differences but I had long forgotten what the differences were.

And Scott Hahn is very big on the family dimension of Christianity. It did not surprise me that he would expand on it here,

As to the Holy Family, I keep a small medal of the Holy Family on my neck chain, along with a crucifix and another of St. Catherine of Siena, who I consider my patron saint. But the Holy Family is special to me. My wife and I adopted our only child, a son, late in life. So we are father, mother, son, a mirror of the Holy Family.


message 8: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1314 comments Mod
Colleen wrote: "Hi all! Back from a very long hiatus and hoping to pop in and out of here as my reading time is sporadic.

The first time I ever held a baby was actually my newborn daughter. We never had any small..."


Welcome back Colleen!
How precious your little daughter is one year old now. Watching all the momentous 'firsts' is so wonderful.


message 9: by Madeleine (new)

Madeleine Myers | 570 comments On holding a baby:

Kerstin nailed it--it is awesome, especially when it's yours. I was very prepared for my babies, having a newborn baby sister when I was twelve, and earning money baby-sitting for several years. But when our babies were born--so different and so magical! I saw tears in my husband's eyes when he held our first son, and he would hold him in his arms and talk to him and Steve, even a few days old, would move his mouth trying to talk back. He was with me when our daughter was born, and was the first to hold her after the nurses cleaned her up. He was disappointed and anxious that the doctor wouldn't let him in when our younger son came because i had some complications, but surprise and joy followed when everything was resolved. As for me, I was pregnant all three times during advent--and I know from my own joy and feelings of blessedness how magnificent that joy must have been for Mary as she held baby Jesus. This year, we have no babies--the youngest grandchild is now nine, and I miss the wonder of having a baby in my arms. Looking forward to the first great-grand!


message 10: by Lucy (new)

Lucy | 2 comments What struck me about chapter one was this quote:

'Without Christ, the world was a joyless place and any place where he remains unknown and unaccepted is a joyless place. Everything has changed since Christ's birth yet everything remains to be changed as people come to receive the child in faith.'

It made me think of the changes in my feelings toward Advent and Christmas since I came to know the nativity of our Lord to be a true story. Having been raised (nominally) Catholic, I knew the Christmas story; I heard it every year, acted it out in our school plays, had a nativity in our house etc. Yet probably did not always fully believe it, not until my later teens that is. Once I did, things changed for me. Christmas was no longer the season for decorations, or presents or food and so on. It was a season of reflection on the truth that God came down to earth, a time to prepare my heart for his return once again, and a time of celebration surrounded by my family. My faith and my family added a much great depth to the season. While I knew happiness before, I did not know real, abiding joy.


message 11: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1314 comments Mod
Lucy, that's beautiful.


message 12: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
Lucy wrote: "What struck me about chapter one was this quote:

'Without Christ, the world was a joyless place and any place where he remains unknown and unaccepted is a joyless place. Everything has changed si..."


I had a similar experience too Lucy. Real joy came when I found my faith a number of years ago.

If you're new to our group, welcome! And happy St. Lucy's day coming up. She was always referred to as Santa Lucia in my Italian home, and for a couple of reasons was our family patron saint. :)


message 13: by Madeleine (new)

Madeleine Myers | 570 comments So glad you shared that, Lucy!

We used to have lovely Christmases at my mother-in-law's home; our children, and then grandchildren would be with us. At first we would go to Midnight Mass together, but then our children, my mother-in-law's grandchildren, all fell away from the faith as did my sister-in-law, my father-in--law developed Alzheimer's, and it was just my mother-in-law, my husband and I going to Mass on Christmas. For the rest, it was all about the gifts and the food and getting together. After she and Papa passed our Christmases were scattered, and when my husband and I faced our first Christmas without our children or grandchildren, we weren't really alone because we had our faith and the beautiful infancy of Jesus to celebrate--bittersweet but comforting. I still pray for our children's return to the faith (one grandchild is, I think, being drawn to a Christianity he was not raised to know), and that this holy season will once again bring us together. We have been celebrating lately by bringing Christmas to my brother, who was widowed several years ago, and sometimes my daughter and her family are with us. But Baby Jesus is always there, and Christmas gets better every year. But in the end, it is about family and when families are together to celebrate the Holy Family, mindful of the central facts of our faith coming to life every year at this time, that is joyful indeed.


message 14: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
Madeleine, it is so easy to fall out of habit, and then suddenly one loses one's faith, or more likely the children do. I see it frequently. One has to be vigilant on going to Mass with the whole family. I've read that studies show that the father's faith is critical to the family. If he is not devout, then the children fall away.


message 15: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
Hahn finds it important—and rightly so—to emphasize in chapter two that the events narrated in the Gospels are true fact, historical fact, not some fable or folklore.

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)


If these events are only fable, then it is meaningless. That sort of skepticism is what has caused western culture to lose faith in God. What separates Christianity from any religion that I can think of is the incarnation of God into man for the salvation of mankind.


message 16: by Kristen (new)

Kristen | 55 comments It's so important to keep the focus on the "infancy narratives" as Pope Benedict XVI refers to them, with the commercialization of Christmas as fantasy having taken over the historical meaning of the holiday. I have to do that with my two teens just about daily through the season it seems!

I was going to tread lightly on first chapter's focus on the institution of the family. This only because I lost my father on November 15th and will be traveling back to the Northwest on Christmas Eve for his funeral Mass on December 28th. So my heart is heavy this season but I can draw comfort knowing he is with Christ and reunited with my mother.


message 17: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1314 comments Mod
Kristen wrote: "It's so important to keep the focus on the "infancy narratives" as Pope Benedict XVI refers to them, with the commercialization of Christmas as fantasy having taken over the historical meaning of t..."

I am so sorry for your loss, Kristen. Losing a parent is never easy. May the Holy Spirit comfort you and your family.

Keeping the commercialization out of Christmas isn't easy. With teenagers that can be a battle, I do remember it well. The newest gadgets lure, and that's just the beginning. Now that they are older, I am amazed how much of the values we tried to instill have taken hold, especially with our oldest who is married and a brand new father. At the time I thought I was talking into the ether!


message 18: by Manny (last edited Dec 11, 2018 10:53AM) (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
It’s just as much of a battle on the commercialization of Christmas with a nine year old as it is with teens. ;)

My sympathies Kristin. Eternal rest for your father.


message 19: by Colleen (new)

Colleen (colleenisterrific) | 21 comments I am also having a hard time trying to battle the commercialization. Within my own immediate family, we are very good at it but I am STRUGGLING with how my parents are handling it. With the arrival of their first grand child, they constantly are dumping new items on us for her (clothing, toys, diapers, books, everything lol).

They were raised Catholic but aren't practicing. I'd love to keep Christmas gifts simple but with them, they just don't understand :(


message 20: by Madeleine (new)

Madeleine Myers | 570 comments Very sorry for your loss, Kristen. Christmas is hard so soon after losing a parent. Will pray for your peace and comfort, and that you may still find joy in the celebration of Christ's birth.


message 21: by Manny (last edited Dec 14, 2018 05:17PM) (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
In chapter three I think Hahn makes what might be the most important point of the books. Hahn points out that through the genealogy, St. Matthew is joining with St. John in the fourth Gospel that Christ’s arrival is a reformulation of genesis.

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)


Christ’s birth is monumental. It is the incarnational entrance of God into world, the one and only time in human history. The fall from Eden will be reversed. That is the reason for our joy, which is reflected in the book’s title. That is why we celebrate Christmas.


message 22: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1314 comments Mod
Wasn't it Fulton Sheen who said that Christ's birth was so important that he split time in two? We talk about before and after Christ, regardless of how it is expressed. We think of it as rather normal, of time within these two large segments.

I am still slowly making my way through the book Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction, which was the text assigned to our parish's fall class. In order to understand how stories were written, and what was important within a predominantly oral tradition are these remarks:
"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."
This brings the genealogies in the Gospels to new light. They are a bridge to the moment of divine creation, this time made new.


message 23: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
Kerstin wrote: "Wasn't it Fulton Sheen who said that Christ's birth was so important that he split time in two? We talk about before and after Christ, regardless of how it is expressed. We think of it as rather no..."

I have heard that before.


message 24: by Celia (new)

Celia (cinbread19) | 61 comments I am reading on Kindle so can highlight passages that are meaningful to me.

In Ch 1, I read:
The family is the key to Christmas. The family is the key to Christianity.
I am married but never had children. By definition, the unit that lives in my home is not a family. Webster says there must be children. I never had any children. Ironically, I do have grandchildren as my husband has one daughter who has three children so I am grandmother by marriage. My point is that at first blush I felt left out because of my childless state. But further thought allowed me to realize I AM part of a family. First I AM a child of MY parents and I do have some beautiful grandchildren to call family.
This book is beautiful and encourages, perhaps REQUIRES, extra thought.
I am in the process of making public my highlighted phrases. All comments appreciated!!


message 25: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1314 comments Mod
Celia wrote: "I am reading on Kindle so can highlight passages that are meaningful to me.

In Ch 1, I read:
The family is the key to Christmas. The family is the key to Christianity.
I am married but never had c..."


What you touch upon, Celia, is a great insight. Christianity has a place for everyone! When we talk about family we naturally start with mother, father, and child, and at first, this is who we are. We are born into a family and have the role of child. But this is not all who we are, we are brothers and sisters, cousins, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles, spouses, grandparents, etc. Each one of these has its own place within the greater family. With this in mind, the Holy Family is only one aspect of Jesus's life. Later he never married, and he was the one who radically expanded the concept of family beyond bloodlines, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? ... For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matt 12:46-50)


message 26: by Celia (new)

Celia (cinbread19) | 61 comments Kerstin wrote: "Celia wrote: "I am reading on Kindle so can highlight passages that are meaningful to me.

In Ch 1, I read:
The family is the key to Christmas. The family is the key to Christianity.
I am married b..."

Thank you Dear Kerstin. You have made me feel so positive about comments. And of course Jesus had no children. How could I have not made that connection!!


message 27: by Madeleine (new)

Madeleine Myers | 570 comments Beautiful insights, Celia and Kerstin!

Last year our parish Bible study group studied Ephesians, and one of the takeaways that has stayed with me is the emphasis on how Jesus' humanity has made us adopted children of God and siblings of Jesus as well.

In God we all have a family.


message 28: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
Celia wrote: "I am married but never had children. By definition, the unit that lives in my home is not a family. Webster says there must be children. I never had any children. ."

Oh I wouldn't say you're not a family. Goodness, a husband and wife is a family in my book. If you look at the secondary definitions, a family is also a group of people who form a household under one head. I don't know if Catholic dogma requires children to be a family but it should if it doesn't. Heck, my wife and I didn't adopt our son until our nineteenth year of marriage. We weren't a family until then? That's unfathomable.


message 29: by Celia (new)

Celia (cinbread19) | 61 comments Manny wrote: "Celia wrote: "I am married but never had children. By definition, the unit that lives in my home is not a family. Webster says there must be children. I never had any children. ."

Oh I wouldn't sa..."

Your comments are making me smile. Thank you Manny. BTW, I hope you meant "I don't know if Catholic dogma requires children to be a family but it should not if it does". From the context of your comment, I know that is what you meant.


message 30: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
Oh yes. I botched that...lol. Yes , your phrasing is what I meant.


message 31: by Lisa (last edited Dec 18, 2018 04:25PM) (new)

Lisa | 182 comments Manny wrote: "How unexpected to start the Christmas story with Hahn’s twelve year old daughter, having a baby placed in her arms.

Yet that young woman, long centuries ago, found fulfillment in Bethlehem—in a ba..."

My family took care of foster babies for Catholic Charities when I was growing up. Those babies were a true blessing in our lives and definitely awakened maternal feelings in me at a very young age.


message 32: by Lisa (last edited Dec 18, 2018 04:24PM) (new)

Lisa | 182 comments Nadine wrote: "I love the genealogy explanation bit, especially highlight the differences between them and what they meant. I truly love seeing things from the eyes of the Jewish people of the day."

I, too, loved the genealogy explanation. I always wondered why the genealogies always seemed centered on St. Joseph instead of on Mary. Interesting to see this addressed


message 33: by Lisa (last edited Dec 18, 2018 04:32PM) (new)

Lisa | 182 comments I love the part in chapter one that states "We are Christ's family, and so the joy of Christmas belongs to us." It is so easy for us to lose that sense of joy but what a wonderful reminder that it is our right to be joyful!
I have also really appreciated the references to historical figures and documents which help point to the truth of the infancy narratives.


message 34: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "Manny wrote: "How unexpected to start the Christmas story with Hahn’s twelve year old daughter, having a baby placed in her arms.

Yet that young woman, long centuries ago, found fulfillment in Bet..."


Oh what a blessing you received growing up. That's wonderful!


message 35: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "I love the part in chapter one that states "We are Christ's family, and so the joy of Christmas belongs to us." It is so easy for us to lose that sense of joy but what a wonderful reminder that it ..."

I love that too! Did I miss it? What page is that on Lisa?


message 36: by Lisa (last edited Dec 18, 2018 04:58PM) (new)

Lisa | 182 comments Manny wrote: "Lisa wrote: "I love the part in chapter one that states "We are Christ's family, and so the joy of Christmas belongs to us." It is so easy for us to lose that sense of joy but what a wonderful remi..."

The botttom of page 10 to the top of page 11. It leads into the quote that Lucy cited above.


message 37: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3633 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "Manny wrote: "Lisa wrote: "I love the part in chapter one that states "We are Christ's family, and so the joy of Christmas belongs to us." It is so easy for us to lose that sense of joy but what a ..."

Oh yes, thank you.


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