Luke’s Nativity: December 23

The months passed.  On one of these days, a message was delivered from Caesar Augustus.  He was taking a census of the whole world.

It was the first census ever, before the one when Kurenios was ruling Syria.

And everybody packed his or her things.  They would register in the city where their family came from.

And Joseph set off to register too.  He went with his fiancée Mary who was now eight months pregnant.  They set off from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth.  They went to Judea into a city of David called Bethlehem.  They went there because Joseph was from that line and it was where his family line ­came through.  It is where David used to live.

And while they were there, Mary went into labor.  She gave birth to her son, to the firstborn.  She swaddled him and set him in a feeding trough, because there was no place for them in the inn.







“He does well to name the Governor as this situates the event in history…it looks as though the Evangelist gives the governor’s name just as one would give that of a Consul to mark or date the year of which one is writing.  If the names of the current consuls are inscribed on deeds of purchase, how much more important is it that the date of the world’s Ransom should be clearly indicated!…

“Therefore Christ became a little one, He became a child, so that you might become a perfect man.  He was wrapped in swaddling bands, so that you might be freed from the bonds of death.  He lay in a manger so that you might be raised to the altar.  He dwelt on earth so that you might live among the stars. There was no room for Him in the inn, this was so that you might have many rooms in the heavenly mansions.  ‘He who was rich made himself poor for your sake, so that you might be rich’ (2 Co 8.9).  The Lord’s poverty is my inheritance and His weakness is my strength.  For Himself He preferred poverty and want, so that for others He might have abundant wealth.  It is I who am washed by those tears that He shed as a crying infant, it is my sins that are wiped away by those tears…

“My friend, for your sake He was weak; but in Himself He was powerful.  For your sake He was destitute, in Himself He was all riches.  Do not judge these matters by what you see, but acknowledge that you have been redeemed.  You see Him in swaddling bands; what you do not see is that He is in Heaven.  You hear an infant wailing; what you do not hear is the lowing of an ox that recognizes its Lord and Maker.”

St. Ambrose, Commentary on Luke. Book 2.


“Let me begin my discourse to you with that which is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Come let us praise the Lord, and sing unto God our Savior:’ for He is the Head of our feast-day.  And therefore let us tell about His noble ways, and communicate the manner of that beautifully contrived revelation.  It is the way He has saved the world. Having placed on each one of us the yoke of His kingdom, it is justly the object of our admiration.

“The blessed David therefore says in the Psalms, ‘All you people clap your hands;’ and again adds to it, ‘Sing with understanding, God has set a king over all the world.’ For this holy mystery was brought about with a wisdom that is worthy of Christ. If it is true, and it is true, that the Lord – though He is God –appeared to us and took the likeness of a slave, he did it even though he is in the form of God the Father and possesses an incomparable and universal Lordliness. But even so He was God and Lord; for He did not cease to be that which He had been…

“We see Immanuel lying as a babe in the manger, and wrapped in human fashion in swaddling bands, but extolled as God in hymns by the host of the holy angels. For they proclaimed His birth to the shepherds, God the Father having granted to the inhabitants of heaven, as a special privilege, to be the first to preach Him.”

  Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke: Sermon 2.


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