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The Catholic Defender: My Annual Christmas Timeline Salute

“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

In six days God created the heavens and the earth, “Let there be light and there was light…, Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other…, Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that dry land may appear…, Let the earth bring forth vegetation…, Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night…’Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky…, Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures…, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness giving dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.” Genesis 1:3-26

“God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created.” God first blessed Adam and Eve, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” Genesis 1:27-28

The second story of creation places Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden where they lived in perfect happiness with the presence of God in their midst. Until one faithless day…

The Fall

“Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the Lord God had made. The serpent asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” The woman answered the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, “You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.” But the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.” The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.” Genesis 3:1-7

This is what led to the natural fall of man. Romans 5:12-14 relates, “Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of one who was to come.”

Because of the fall of Adam and Eve, man fell from God’s grace, but “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

With the Advent wreath, there are four candles that represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of the Savior. Three candles are purple and one is rose.

The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and good works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas.

The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead.

The Catholic Church is the living story told through its tradition and scripture of God’s continued relationship with mankind. It re-begins with the Promise:

The Promise:

Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heal.” “The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living. God made leather garments, with which he clothes them. Then the Lord God said: “See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is bad! Therefore, he must not be allowed to putout his hand to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever.” The Lord God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. When he expelled the man, he settled him east of the garden of Eden; and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:20-24

2348 B.C. The time of the great Flood and Noah. It was here that God gives the sign of the rainbow as His promise not to destroy the earth with flood.

2200 B.C. In Egypt begins the VIII Dynasty (First after the flood), and Mesopotamia begins the Gutian period. The king begins to have himself called “god”.

1850 B.C. God calls Abraham to come out of Ur to Canaan where the Lord establishes His Covenant with mankind through the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob promising Abraham, “I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing, all this because you obeyed my command.” Genesis 22:17-18

(Jesus would say of Himself, being the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” John 8:38)

1250 B.C., Deuteronomy 18:15, “A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you among your own kinsmen; to him shall you listen.”

1250 B.C. Numbers 24:17, “I see him, though not now; I behold him, though not near: A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel, that shall smite the brows of Moab, and the skulls of all the Shuthites, Till Edom is dispossessed, and no fugitive is left in Seir.”

742 B.C., Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”

742 B.C., Micah (Contemporary of Isaiah) 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; Whose origin is from old, from ancient times.”

538 B.C., Daniel 9:24, “Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and for your holy city: Then transgression will stop and sin will end, guilt will be expiated, Everlasting justice will be introduced, vision and prophecy ratified, and a most holy will be anointed.”

The Preparation:

9th of Av 586 B.C. (Tish’a B’ Av) The destruction of the Temple (2 Kgs 24:18-25). People will often start the priestly rotation on the 1st of Nissan (538) as it began in 1 Chronicles 22:24, but instead, they resumed their rotation beginning with the 9th of Av. This broke cycle of the priestly duties which would resume in 538 when the Hebrews returned from exile. This would set the stage for an important event. Zechariah of the priestly Division of Abijah, was conducting his duties about October 2nd-9th, Yom Kippur (Luke 1:10). The prophecy of John the Baptist through an Angel of the Lord.

63 B.C. Pompey abominations spoken of by the Jewish Historian, Josephus said it was 27 years from this date to when Herod captures Jerusalem.

36 B.C. a Sabbatical year, During the Jewish High Festival, Yom Kippur, Jerusalem fell to Herod whose reign begins on the first of Nissan, 35 B.C. This is important because Herods death takes place soon after an eclipse on Jan 10, 1 B.C. (King Herod would be the ruling authority in Judea-a puppet of Rome, at the time of Christs birth, December 25, 2 B.C.)

September 8, 18 B.C. The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the “New Eve”, the woman together with her seed would bruise the serpents head while the Devil strikes at their (His) heal. Genesis 3:15/Revelation 12

October 3 B.C. The Day of Atonement-Yom Kippur,the busiest Temple day of the Temple year (Luke 1:10) sometime late March early April. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Zachariah and announced the coming of John the Baptist.

September 3 B.C. The planet Jupiter was in conjunction with Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo-Leo the Lion. This would be the star the wise men would follow leading them to Bethlehem. They followed the star for about 16 months until the Star rested over Bethlehem for six days beginning on Dec 25, 2 B.C.

Isaiah 60:1-6 prophesied, “Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; But upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes anbd look about; they all gather and come to you: Your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses. Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your hear shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord.”

February 2 B.C. Caesar Augustus received the title "“Pater Patriae" on Feb 2 B.C. calling for his presence in Rome beginning early fall of 3 B.C. Quirinius, the Governor of Syria (Luke 2:2), acted as Governor of Palestine through 2 B.C. This is important because of the decree for the whole world to be enrolled which is what leads Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. This fulfills Micah 5:2.

March-April 2 B.C. “In the sixth month (since the announcement of John the Baptist-October 2 B.C.), the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail Full of Grace, the Lord is with you. But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:26-22)

March-April 2:B.C. Mary hastens to visit Elizabeth who was in her sixth month of pregnancy.

June (25) 2 B.C. Birth of St. John the Baptist.

The Christmas Story

December 25 2 B.C. The Birth of Jesus “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, From David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (Isaiah 9:5-6).

“Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21)

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was Governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1-7)

December 25, 2 B.C. The angels announcement of the good news and the visitation of the Shepherds.

“The total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations.” Matthew 1:17

December 31, 2 B.C. The Visitation of the Wise men following the Star of Bethlehem and soon after Jesus presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem (after Mary’s purification process of 40 days) the vision of the angels to travel another route from King Herod. Matthew 2:1-12

January 1, 1 B.C. Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day according to the Law and was formally given the name Jesus by St. Joseph as the angel Gabriel had directed to Mary at the Annunciation.

January 10, 1 B.C. The Eclipse spoken of by the Jewish Historian, Josephus who then identifies King Herod’s death soon after. This would have been in his 37th year of his reign as shown by Josephus.

The Presentation

February 2, 1 B.C. “When the days were completed for their purification (40 days) according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.” Luke 2:22-24

The Wise men and their caravan stayed and camped around the area of Bethlehem until after the Presentation of the Lord. We know from reading Matthew 2:12, the wise men receive a message in a dream to go another route and to not see King Herod. For timing sake, I am simply adding February 2 here which marks the 40 days after the birth of Christ and his Presentation at the Temple. By this time, certainly King Herod would be waiting for the wise men to report back to him with much anxiousness.

February 2, 1 B.C. (Same night that the wise men receive their message from the angel) St. Joseph receives the vision to flee with Mary and Jesus from King Herod’s massacre of the Holy Infants trying to kill the Christ Child. Matthew 2:13-15 states, “When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Because I am using February 2, 1 B.C. as when the wise men and the Holy Family depart from Bethlehem it only stands to reason that it was here that the King Herod’s Soldiers massacres the holy infants. Matthew 2:16-18

April 6 (3760 ‘Hebrew Year’, Gregorian year 1 B.C.) marks Passover for the Jews. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, by this time, King Herod was dead. The Holy Family remained in Egypt until the threat was over.

The Jewish historian Josephus

In the past, it was believed that Herod had died in 4 B.C. because there was a partial eclipse before the Passover celebration. However, this narrative does not fit the rest of the the story. The Star of Bethlehem for example, scientifically is shown to have arrived on December 25, 2 B.C. With the most recent data coming from science, it is more likely that Josephus was identifying Herod’s death taking place in 1 B.C. as his death would have fallen between the (full) Lunar eclipse (Jan 10) and the Passover (April 6).

Consider Josephus states that King Herod died 34 years after the conquest of Jerusalem in 35 B.C. Also Josephus states that Herod died between a Lunar eclipse and Passover. In 1 B.C. there are 89 days between the eclipse and Passover which is significant. In 4 B.C. there were only 29 days between the events.

April 3, 33 A.D. Jesus dies on the cross and rises from the dead three days later. the Ascension of Jesus would be 40 days later and the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles in Jerusalem takes place 50 days later. This marks the birthday of the Church founded by Christ, the Catholic Faith.

The Celebration:

December 25, 125 A.D. Pope Telephorus, 7th successor of St. Peter, established the custom of Midnight Mass.

During this time, we also read the following words of Theophilus (A.D. 115-181), Catholic bishop of Caesarea in Palestine: “We ought to celebrate the birthday of Our Lord on what day soever the 25th of December shall happen.”

December 25, 127 A.D. Pope Telephorus began the custom of Midnight Mass singing in honor of the Christmas Story, the angels announcing the good news.

In the 2nd century, a massacre in the catacombs on December 25th was recorded as having occurred on the date of the Nativity.

Alfred Edersheim, a Messianic Jew, wrote, “There is no adequate reason for questioning the historical accuracy of this date. The objections generally made rest on grounds which seem to me historically untenable.”

Shortly thereafter in the second century, Saint Hippolytus (A.D. 170-240) wrote in passing that the birth of Christ occurred on December 25:

“The First Advent of our Lord in the flesh occurred when He was born in Bethlehem, was December 25th, a Wednesday, while Augustus was in his forty-second year, which is five thousand and five hundred years from Adam. He suffered in the thirty-third year, March 25th, Friday, the eighteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, while Rufus and Roubellion were Consuls.”

313 A.D. The Early Christians built a Church over the site of where Jesus was born, Constantine was by this time a Christian.

379 A.D. The preaching of Saints such as St. Gregory Nazianzus spoke of Christmas continuing the tradition of December 25.

Saint Augustine confirms the tradition of March 25 as the Messianic conception and December 25 as His birth:

For Christ is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also he suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which he was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which he was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before him nor since. But he was born, according to tradition, upon December the 25th

397 A.D. The hymns of St Ambrose began to inspire many.

567 A.D. The Council of Tours establishing the Seasons of Advent and Christmas into the Church calender.

The Christmas Season runs from December 25th through 6 January, the Feast of the Epiphany, the Wise men.

12th Century, St. Francis of Assisi inspires plays and caroling through the Nativity scene.

With all of the historical evidence, it is clear that the Catholic Church remembers and keeps the 25th of December as the celebration of the birth of the Lord that was promised since the fall of man. The point made is that Christmas is not of Pagan origin as some will say. People of all ages can appreciate the true meaning of Christmas as we keep the story alive in our hearts.

We here at Deepertruth want to wish you all a Merry Christmas (which is really taken from the root Christ Mass) and a Happy New Year.

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