The Parable of the First Christmas (Part 1)

Benito Sanctitus

“Look! the virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Immanuel, a name which means ‘God is with us’.” (Matthew 1:23)

Rome, the mighty empire, commanded that all heads of the family must go back to their native land in order to be registered in the list of tax payers. Full of sadness, St. Joseph conveyed this message to the Virgin Mary because she was expecting a child soon and she might suffer difficulty in the journey. The Virgin Mary answered that this is the will of God. So one cold winter morning, St. Joseph, with the Virgin Mary, left Nazareth and went toward Bethlehem where he came from. Ten thousand angels accompanied them on their journey in which only the Virgin Mary could see. When they reached Bethlehem, St. Joseph knocked at the doors of his relatives and friends so they can find a place to rest for the moment but no one let them in. They even received harsh words from them. By that time St. Joseph was already filled with sorrow, but the Virgin Mary comforted him and told him that there was a cave outside the town, which was used by the shepherds, where they can lodge. And she also told him “Let us sweetly embrace adversity and gladly go where the Lord is leading us.”

Upon entering the cave that was used by the shepherds as a manger, St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary prayed and gave thanks to the Lord. St. Joseph prepared the manger by placing straws and clean linen. Afterwards, he went out of the cave and when he looked back, he saw the Virgin Mary kneeling and praying while being enveloped by a magnificent light. Full of reverence and fear, he fell prostrate to the ground and fell asleep. As the Virgin Mary kneels, her eyes were directed towards Heaven and her hands were clasped to her chest. She was clothed by a light like that of the sun, her body was filled with the Holy Spirit that was incomparable to any other creature.

When midnight came, a bright light descended from Heaven and stayed on the Virgin Mary as a brilliant fire. In a wink of an eye, the child of God was born of a Virgin Mary in a humble manger. There laid the child Jesus, God who became man, immaculate and pure. From Him radiated a light that surpasses that of the sun and the angels that surrounding Him can be heard singing the most sweetest melodies. In that moment, the world was covered with a glorious peace.

The Blessed Virgin Mary covered the tiny body of Baby Jesus with swaddling clothes and reverently said, “Welcome, my God, my Lord, and my Son.”

Right afterwards, the Virgin Mary beckoned St. Joseph to come near and see the child. When St. Joseph saw the child, he again fell prostrated to the ground while giving praises to the Child Jesus. He only stood up after much pleading of his spouse. He held and kissed the child in his arms. While he was gently laying the child in the manger, a cow and an ass entered the cave. These animals went near the child and kneeled, their warm breath helped in keeping the child warm in that cold night. The Virgin Mary and St. Joseph were moved by what they saw, tears of joy fell from their eyes and continued giving praises to God.

In that Holy Hour when Our Lord was born, there is an unexplained joy that was felt in all corners of the world. Many animals were jumping with joy, dying flowers have came back to life, trees began to bloom and gave off sweet scents and many springs were filled with water. The birth of the Messiah were conveyed to the Holy Souls by the angles, St. Michael brought the good news to the souls of the Patriarchs and Prophets who were in limbo and also to the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary – St. Anne and St. Joachim. Another angel brought the news to St. Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist, and also to the Three Kings in the East. All home felt a different kind of joy because they knew that the Savior had come. But the most fortunate ones, because they were the first to see the Child Jesus, were the poor and humble shepherds.

In Bethlehem by that time, there were shepherds out in the filed who were tending their flocks. The Archangel Gabriel (who was also the tasked by God to announced to Virgin Mary her forthcoming motherhood) appeared before them and said: 

“Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12) 

While the archangel was saying this, choirs of angels of dazzling beauty also appeared in heaven. They were praising and singing a sweet melody: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will.”

When the archangel left, the shepherds went straight toward the cave. But before that, they first prepared their gifts. It was almost dawn when they reached the manger in Bethlehem. They saw the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and the Child Jesus in the manger. They were filled with joy and started praising the Son of God. They also gave their gifts, which were mostly animals, to the Holy Family who received their gifts with utmost humility.

(to be continued)

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