the virgin birth and more- 2

Life was not easy for Mary after that visit from Gabriel, the angel who told her that she would conceive a child. Her, a virgin--conceive? Humanly impossible. "How can these things be?" she had asked, quite literally. Since that day, it seemed to Mary, everyone else in Galilee had asked the same question of her--but in another tone of voice. After a while, she had learned to accept the clucking … [Read more...]

MATTHEW’S GENEALOGY OF JESUS

Matthew begins his Gospel with a selective list of Jesus' ancestors that both omits from and adds to the official records in First Chronicles 1-3. His intent is not to recite a detailed family tree but to make three points about Jesus. First, Jesus is the prototype of a new creation. The word "genealogy" in Matthew 1:1 translates the Greek word genesis, as does "birth" in Matthew 1:18 in the … [Read more...]

BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

She could have said "no," you understand. It was a sacrifice unheard of -- a call to trust and submission unprecedented in human history. This young Jewish virgin sees an angel, who tells her that she will miraculously conceive the Son of God who will reign on David's throne (Luke 1:26-35). But who will believe her? Joseph, to whom she is betrothed? Her parents? The villagers in Nazareth? Rumors … [Read more...]

THREE ANGELIC ANNOUNCEMENTS

Dr. Luke was a practicing physician, a prudent man -- and his Christmas story is sober truth. It is sobering truth as well. For it says that approximately 2,000 years ago, on days that were otherwise inconspicuous, in an obscure sliver of the globe three angelic visitations occurred, each announcing the coming of the Savior of the world. The first visitation was to an old priest named Zacharias … [Read more...]

SALVATION HISTORY RENEWED

The Bible relates the story of God's activities in human space and time, by which he intends to rescue very many people from judgment, death and all the consequences of human sin. The British refer to this divine agenda as "the scheme of redemption." Americans call it "the plan of salvation." The Germans label it "salvation history." Scripture writers speak of God's "purpose" or "good will." This … [Read more...]

ISAIAH, LUKE AND US

Can you think of a book with two major divisions and 66 smaller parts? The first division contains 39 parts and the second has 27. The second division begins with "a voice in the wilderness" and ends with "new heavens and earth." In the middle it tells of an innocent man who dies for the sins of others. The Bible? Yes -- but also the Book of Isaiah, one of the three Old Testament books most quoted … [Read more...]

WHAT ABOUT ADVENT?

Someone asks what Advent means in the Christian calendar, where it is found in the Bible, and whether Christians ought to observe it. * * * Within 300-400 years after Christ, many Christians set aside an Advent season as a time for fasting, reflection and penitence to prepare for Epiphany, a day celebrating Christ's "epiphany" or appearance to the Wise Men (in the Western church) or his baptism … [Read more...]