Jesus Christ is born in poverty to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph in Bethlehem and is accompanied by an army of of angels. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Gift of the Fear of the Lord so he can be drawn to God and by building the Virtue of Generosity so he can always be exceedingly generous to the poor.
The birth of Jesus reconfirms God’s dominion over all of Creation, including the lives of every man. The first line in Luke’s Nativity account reveals the great darkness in the world. The Roman emperor Caesar Augustus, blasphemously hailed by Romans as a “Son of God” and the “savior of mankind”, brutally oppressed Israel and and a large part of the known world. As part of the oppression, Caesar through his governor Quirinius, demanded a census, a counting of people, to forcefully extract more tax and tribute money. By threat of persecution and death, St. Joseph is compelled to travel by foot, a long distance of 90 miles, to his home town to be counted; the Blessed Virgin Mary, with Jesus in her womb, travels with St. Joseph because she is in the late stages of pregnancy.
Caesar unknowingly is used by God to fulfill prophecy about the Messiah: King David, Israel’s greatest king was anointed king in Bethlehem (1 Sam 16:1-13), and the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2). Remarkably, Bethlehem means “house of bread”, where Jesus, the “Bread of Life” (Jn 6:35), is born. Several centuries later, Jesus, the true Son of God and Savior of the World, will convert the oppressive Roman Empire to Catholicism and use it to evangelize the world.
Rather than being born into earthly riches, Jesus chooses to be born into poverty; St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary are of the poor, Jesus is born in a stable in the small town of Bethlehem, and sleeps in a manger, a feeding trough for animals. Rather than being celebrated by powerful political and religious leaders, the birth of Jesus is announced by a host (meaning “army”) of fearsome angels to the lowly and rough men who kept watch over flocks at night. As in God’s appearance earlier during the Exodus (Ex 40:35), the glory of the Lord (a fiery presence) accompanies the angel who announces Jesus, the Lord and Savior, is born.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
In stark contrast to the prideful arrogance of Caesar Augustus, who lived with great riches and declared himself to be the “son of God” and “savior of mankind”, marvel at the Divine Humility of Jesus, the actual Son of God, who willingly takes on the sufferings of the flesh, is born in abject poverty, and endures a shameful death on the Cross to become the true Savior of all men willing to repent and believe in Him.
Beg for the Gift of the Fear of the Lord
Realize: Modern “sugary” approaches to portraying the Nativity (children in Nativity plays, lighted plastic Nativity scenes in front yards, Christmas movies and cartoons) lead men away from the fearsome supernatural reality of the coming of the Savior at the Nativity.
Believe: Reflect upon the Christmas Mystery (CCC 333, 437, 486, 515, 525-526).
Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of the Fear of the Lord so I am filled with fear, awe, and wonder at the Savior’s stunning supernatural intervention to save men from Satan and the fires of Hell.
Be exceedingly generous to the poor
Realize: The deep spiritual meaning of Christmas can be lost in the overwhelming commercialism of the modern world which encourages the Greed of accumulating new things.
Believe: Reflect upon Jesus’ purposeful decision to embrace Poverty in the Nativity (CCC 517, 520, 525, 1506, 2444).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Poverty, help me build the Virtue of Generosity (a part of Justice) so I turn from Greed and give generously to the many who lack the necessities of life.