Updated: Jan 30
The Lord be with you.
We have just experienced Christmas, opened all our presents, played with our new toys, and gone around the neighborhood showing off what we got, while seeing what all our friends got.
Raise your hand if your gift was the Holy Spirit and are a newly born baby Jesus.
<look for raised hands>
I want to take our memories back to the Gospel reading last week, to the first verse in the Luke selection (Luke 1:26), which states, “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.”
Since none of us here uses the Hebrew calendar, the “sixth month” is named Elul. It is a summer month, similar to the Gregorian calendar’s sixth month of June. Whereas the summer begins in late June for us, Elul aligns between the Gregorian calendar months of August and September.
Now, this means the angel Gabriel came to Mary and announced she was pregnant. She was instantly pregnant with Jesus. We know that because when Gabriel left Mary, telling her that the previously barren Elizabeth was six months pregnant, Mary ran to see Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s baby, John the Baptist, leapt inside Elizabeth’s womb and Elizabeth spoke the Word of the Holy Spirit, saying Mary was special among all women.
So, in the month of Elul, Mary became pregnant with Jesus. If you do the math, figuring that Mary would carry baby Jesus for nine months, his actual birth would have been at the end of the second month (Iyar), or the first of the third month (Sivan). That is around the end of May, first of June, on the Gregorian calendar.
Now, if one sees that Jesus was an important extension of God – as all Christians avow – then the birth of the Son of God would have been on a day that was significant to God. God would have it no other way. If God instantly made Mary pregnant when Gabriel appeared to her, God would have chosen that time for a reason. God would know when the baby would be born, with that chosen time a day of significance. Realizing that, then one can see how the 6th of Sivan is the first day of Shavuot, or the Day of Pentecost.
That “Fiftieth Day” was when Moses brought down the Covenant between God and the Israelites. That day was ordered to be remembered forever, such that as Jews gathered in Jerusalem to maintain that command, the disciples of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit. What better time for the Son of God to be born?
If you recall, Jesus would ascend on Pentecost Eve, meaning his entire life completed a cycle. He would come from Heaven on Pentecost and return to Heaven on the day before Pentecost. It becomes an amazing way to “read between the lines” of the Holy Bible and see the depth that comes out.
On the real birthday of Jesus, the Day of Pentecost after Jesus ascended, each follower of Jesus was reborn as Jesus, through the presence of the Holy Spirit sent by God. We read that in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:4)
God did not send Himself upon those disciples simply because eleven men believed Jesus was a good man and a prophet of the Lord. The Holy Spirit suddenly came upon them because those eleven followers had studied under the resurrected Christ for forty days, preparing themselves and dedicating their souls to God. Jesus Christ advocated on their behalf, knowing their hearts, so he would ask the Father to fill those followers with His Spirit, so they could become eleven Jesus’s.
One became exponentially increased in body. After Peter spoke to the crowd that was attracted to those Apostles, “about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41)
That was a true Merry Christmas, because they all, individually, became bodies for Christ, filled with the blood of the Holy Spirit. They embodied the truest meaning of Christ Mass.
During the Christmas Eve service, we read about the shepherds seeing angels, who gave them the good news that the Savior had been born in Bethlehem. They went and found Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus. When they left to return to their flocks, we read, “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.”
Merry Christmas children! The Father has given you the gift of Salvation!
While the shepherds were simple people, young boys, teens or pre-teens, symbolizing how all the new editions of baby Jesus will be shepherds to the flock of God’s sheep, we too often push aside the shepherd boys’ part in the Christmas play.
The commercialism of Christmas, which has concretely set upon this generation of Christians, loves to focus on three kings coming with fine gifts. We have replaced baby Jesus and the news of angels with Santa Claus and elves. The gifts of Magi are replaced with ads on TV for fancy cars, diamonds, and the latest electronic gadgets, none of which comes free of charge. You must have access to a king’s ransom of wealth (or good credit) to afford such lavish tastes.
This projection of Christmas in December, rather than on 6 Sivan, also becomes a competition with other faiths, where Christians are more able to afford gift giving, due to the blessings of Christ. We take over the news during the season of Hanukah, or the Jewish Festival of Lights, which is not a gift-giving recognition. The commercialization of Christmas has led atheists to complain about Manger scenes on public grounds; and it has led to equal attention being paid to the creation of Kwanzaa in the United States.
One possible reason for why Christians celebrate Christmas in December is that the Hebrew month Elul is the twelfth month of the Hebrew civil year (the sixth month ecclesiastically). December is our twelfth month now, although it was the tenth month in the Julian calendar. Regardless of the month number or month name, there is a celestial event that occurs at this time for all the Northern Hemisphere.
That event was recognized by many religions around the world; so recognizing that time of festival became a way for the Roman Church to get pagans into the sheep fold. The event already celebrated was that of the Winter Solstice, which happens around the 22nd of December each year. Therefore, to have the birth of Christ coincide with that timing was a way of appeasing believers and non-believers alike.
One has to then see that the Winter Solstice as when the light of the Sun is lowest in the Northern Hemisphere sky. It is when there is less light. The weather turns colder.
The sun is said to be motionless for three days, before it begins to slowly ascend to the Vernal Equinox (Spring) and the Summer Solstice.
From that symbolism, the light three days dead (the death and burial of Jesus), then the light rising anew (the Resurrection of Christ), one can see how the Gospel of John speaks of the light of Christ.
Jesus was “The true light, which enlightens everyone.” Jesus is “the light that shines in the darkness” of winter; and although it was a dim light for a period of time, “the darkness did not overcome it.”
That dimness was because the apparent death of Jesus left no one capable of replacing that light. Despite his having followers and believers that Jesus – one human being – was the Savior for the world (in particular the Jewish world) – he died without heirs that could become the torches of his light, once Jesus was placed in a tomb.
Those believers and followers were not filled with the Holy Spirit at that time, because they were not then ready. Although some residual spark still burned within them, it hidden from plain view – behind locked door, fearing their own deaths. They were not ready, and Jesus would not be overcome by death. He would rise again to light the way for his disciple to take up his light and keep the world free from darkness.
The lives of the eleven disciples would change on the Day of Pentecost, after Jesus had risen. The Holy Spirit passed the light of Christ to them, as his Apostles. They would then immediately pass the light onto others.
The Apostles were not named Peter, Matthew, Mark, James and John any more. Although they were called by those names, they became the rebirth of Jesus. Christmas is all about the rebirth of baby Jesus in his followers and believers … when they have done the required preparation, training, and learning.
Christmas is all about the gifts of God to His shepherds, so from having been brought the news of a child born in Bethlehem, one can “return, glorifying and praising God for all” one has seen and heard from angels of the Lord. Christmas is about receiving the gift of God, before you can ever think about giving that gift to someone else.
The gift is one that truly keeps on giving. It is given free of charge … as far as money and credit limits are concerned … but you still have to pay. You pay with your lives. You must die first, in order to be reborn as baby Jesus.
Paul’s words of encouragement to the Christians of Galatia, saying, “Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.” Our faith becomes “justified” by our validation of Jesus as the Son of God, as a continuation of the Christ mind. We validate that by ceasing to put all our eggs into the “ME” basket. We sacrifice [your name here] to become Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.
We must receive that mind on our Day of Pentecost, which comes from our works based on faith – learning the Word of the prophets, and the Word of Jesus, the Son of God. We must learn the law so we can demonstrate our willingness to live by that law, “so that we might receive adoption as children” of God; and so that we might receive the Holy Spirit and be reborn as the child of God, as baby Jesus.
A truly Merry Christmas is when we wake up and find that “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,” causing us to cry out, “Abba! Father!” That joy can only come from knowing we have become heirs of that birth.
On a true Christmas dawning, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he had covered me with the robe of righteousness.”
“Hallelujah! How good it is to sing praises to our God! How pleasant it is to honor him with praise!”
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