Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Feast of the Holy Innocents

December 28

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Wise Men, or Magi came from the east to worship him. They went to Herod, the king, looking for the newborn king of the Jews, the Savior.

Herod was a very bad man. When he heard that these Wise Men were looking for a newborn king, he began to worry about losing his throne.

But he did not let the Wise Men know what he was thinking. He called in his chief priests and asked them where the Bible says the Messiah was to be born. They answered: Bethlehem.

"Go and find out about this child," the wicked king said to the Wise Men. "When you have found out where he is, come and tell me. Then I, too, will go and worship him."

The Wise Men agreed and continued on their way, following the star. They found Jesus the Messiah, with Mary and Joseph. They adored him and offered their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

But in their sleep an angel warned them not to go back to Herod. Then an angel asked Saint Joseph to take Mary and Baby Jesus into Egypt. In this way, God spoiled Herod's plans to harm little Baby Jesus.

When Herod realized that the Wise Men had not come back to him, he became very angry. He was an evil, horrible man, and now the fear of losing his throne made him worse.

He sent his soldiers to kill all the little baby boys of Bethlehem in the hope of killing Jesus too. The soldiers had to obey his order. There was great sorrow in the little town of Bethlehem, as mothers wept when their beloved babies were killed.

These little children are honored today by the Church as martyrs. They are called the Holy Innocents.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas- The Birth of Jesus

December 25

About two thousand years ago, in the town of Nazareth, there lived a young woman named Mary. She was engaged to be married to Joseph, a carpenter. One day an angel appeared before her and told her she had been chosen to have a special baby. The baby would be God's son and she must call him Jesus. Soon after the angel's visit, Mary and Joseph were married.

Mary was due to have her baby when they were told they had to go on a long journey to Bethlehem, which was where Joseph came from.This was because they had to pay a special tax. Mary had to ride on a donkey for a few days over the hills of Gallilee.

At last Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem. It was crowded with other people who needed to pay their taxes. Mary was very tired and needed a place to stay. At each inn, the story was the same. There was no room for them. Eventually, , one kind innkeeper said he had a stable where he kept his animals. They were welcome to stay there.

And so it was that a few hours later, Mary gave birth to her son in that stable. She wrapped Jesus in strips of cloth and laid Him in a manger full of hay.

At the same time, on a hillside overlooking Bethlehem, some shepherds were watching over their sheep. A bright light appeared in the sky. They were very afraid. It was an angel sent by God. The angel told them not to be afraid, because he had some good news. He said the Son of God had been born and they would find Him in Bethlehem.

The shepherds wanted to go and see the baby. When they arrived at the stable, they were filled with joy at seeing Jesus lying in the manger. They knelt down and worshipped Him. They told Mary and Joseph how the angel had appeared in the sky and told them that Jesus was to be the Savior of the world.

Then they went away giving praise and glory to God.

The great prophets of the Old Testament had been comforted by the thought that someday the Savior would come into the world. Now he had been born among us. Christ came for all of us.
The Bible says: "God so loved the world that he sent his only-begotten Son."

We must rejoice because we know that as always, God had kept his wonderful promise!

We have Jesus' teachings, his Church and Jesus himself on our altars at every Mass. Christmas is the time when we realize more than ever how much God loves us.