12/22/12

The Scriptures for Christmas



We all know the story of Christ's birth but our understanding of it has been shaped by a variety of influences: scripture, preaching, song, art and legend.

One way to prepare for celebrating Christmas is to take a look at how the four gospels present the birth, the origin of Christ. 

Did you know: that Luke's account never mentions the wise men? that Matthew's account doesn't mention the shepherds or a manger? that neither Mark nor John includes a birth narrative? A little comparative study here may provide some surprises!

The gospel texts of the Christmas story can be found below. For all of the scriptures for the different liturgies of Christmas (Mass at: Vigil, Midnight, Dawn, Day), look here for the texts and commentary on them.



The icons of the four evangelists are the work of Peter Wilke

Luke
Chapter 2
(preceded in Chapter 1 by the story of Zechariah, Elizabeth, and their son, John the Baptist; and the story of the angel appearing to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, announcing that she will conceive by the Holy Spirit.)

1
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.
2
This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
4
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
5
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
6
While they were there, the time came for her to have her child,
7
and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.
9
The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.
10
The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11
For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.
12
And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."
13
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
14
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
15
When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us."
16
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.
17
When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child.
18
All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.
19
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.
20
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.
21
When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
22
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord,
23
just as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,"
24
and to offer the sacrifice of "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons," in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
25
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him.
26
It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord.
27
He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
28
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
29
"Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word,
30
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31
which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,
32
a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel."
33
The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
34
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted
35

36
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
37
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
38
And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
39
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
40
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.



Matthew

Chapter 1
(Preceded by the genealogy of Jesus)
18
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. LinkWhen his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit.
19
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
20
Such was his intention when, behold, 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 it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
21
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
22
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
23
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us."
24
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
25
He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
Chapter 2
1
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem,
2
saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."
3
When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
5
They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:
6
'And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"
7
Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.
8
He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage."
9
After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
10
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
11
and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
13
When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him."
14
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.
15
He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt I called my son."
16
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
17
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:
18
"A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more."
19
When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
20
and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead."
21
He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.
22
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee.
23
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazorean."



John
Although there is no Nativity narrative in the Gospel of John, it does treat of the origin of the Word made flesh.
1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2
He was in the beginning with God.
3
All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be
4
through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;
5
the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6
A man named John was sent from God.
7
He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
8
He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
9
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
10
He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him.
11
He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.
12
But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,
13
who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man's decision but of God.
14
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.



Mark
There is no Nativity narrative in the Gospel of Mark which begins with the preaching of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry.




   
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