Jesus’ Birth Stories: Matthew 1 & 2; Luke 1 & 2

Both writers differ in their details, but their central religious message

about the meaning of Jesus is often remarkably similar.

The Birth of Jesus, according to the Gospel of Luke 2:1-20+

Jesus is born as one of the poor: Good News!  Emmanuel: God-is-with-us!

Luke’s story emphasizes that:

  • God is utterly faithful.
  • God upsets human expectations.
  • God is found in the most ‘unlikely’ places: in humble, faithful servants, in the needy and oppressed, in the poor and ignored, in the rough and ‘uncultured.’
  • God delights not in suffering, but in life
  • God cares for and honors the poor.
  • The ordinary can be filled with God’s glory and power.
  • As followers of Christ we should value cooperation, mutual support, faith-sharing, rather than competitive status and power-seeking.
  • We are called to prayerful contemplation of the mystery of God’s loveand to humble service.

The people in Luke’s story:

Zechariah                    Elizabeth                     John                 Mary    Joseph Angels Shepherds                                           Simeon            Anna

How do these people further the meaning to Luke’s story?  What else do you find in this story?

From Celebration Dec. 2004:

On keeping Christmas all year long: believe and live as if love is the strongest thing in the world – stronger than hate, stronger than fear, stronger than death.  “God-with-us” – God’s power and love is forever involved with all that is human.

Karl Rahner says that “when we say that God is the Lord and goal of humankind, that without God there is no meaning to our lives, that God is our helper and savior” . . . then we shall know what it means that God-is-with-us.

The Birth of Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew 1:18-16+

Jesus is a Light to the Nations.

Matthew’s story emphasizes that Jesus is:

  • sent by God and fulfills the Jewish OT prophecies.
  • rejected by the powerful, the greedy.
  • welcomed by the humble, the just, the wise.
  • recognized by people from all nations.

The people in Matthew’s story:

Joseph Mary                Angel

3 seekers from the East                       King Herod

Chief priests and teachers or scribes of the Law

What meaning do you find in their reactions to Jesus?  What meaning do you find in these symbols?

The Star           Frankincense   Myrrh  Gold

*How do both stories ‘prefigure’ the story of Jesus’ life and death?

What similar meanings do we find in both stories?

What differences do you notice?

An unknown poet wrote:

“When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flock, the work of Christmas begins:

to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among brothers, to make music in the heart.”

*from “Birth of Jesus” The Catholic Vision, by Mark Link

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