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The Bible In A Year: Day 71

Numbers 28-29
Psalm 68
Luke 2:1-20

Numbers 28-29

The reading from Numbers runs through the various different sacrifices and how to offer them. Under the Old Covenant there was a sacrifice for almost every occasion and at least two every day of the year. These are all summed up and perfected by Christ’s once and for all sacrifice on Calvary.

Luke 2:1-20

Yesterday we read about the nativity of John the Baptist, and today we read about the Nativity of Our Lord. This chapter begins with Luke setting the scene by mentioning Caesar Augustus and the name of the governor of Syria. This was a common practice in writing historical books in that day because it sets it in a real time and with real places, unlike the myths and fictional accounts that are set in unknown places and dated to an unknown misty past. Luke is showing that what he’s writing is not a Zeus like myth, it’s a real history of a real person.

Luke mentions that Mary gave birth to her “first born” son. This should in no way be read to imply there’s a second son, or any other children. It’s purely a legal description of the child being the first born male, and has no implications on whether or not there are other children later. The first born son would stand to inherit his father’s estate, regardless of any other children or lack thereof. The first born male was also required to be redeemed at the temple according to the Law, and the mother must observe certain purification rituals with the first born male.

Jesus is laid in a manger, and for us this just means a crib, but a manger is actually a feeding trough for livestock. Also, Bethlehem means “house of bread” in Hebrew, so that means the bread of life is born in the “house of bread” and then laid in a food trough. Good was really signaling the significance of Jesus being the lamb of god and the bread of life.

The setting of Christ’s birth points us to the Eucharist. Since through sin man becomes like the beasts, Christ lies in the trough where animals feed, offering them, not hay, but his own body as life-giving bread.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria

The shepherds were the first to hear the announcement of the birth of the savior when the Angels announce it to them in the fields outside Bethlehem. When the angels arrive the Glory of God shines down around them. This phrase is used several times in the Old Testament and during the transfiguration of Christ some 30 years from this point, and it would’ve been quite the sight to see.

Cloud and light. These two images occur together in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory – with Moses on Mount Sinai, at the tent of meeting, and during the wandering in the desert, and with Solomon at the dedication of the Temple. In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and “overshadows” her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus. On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the “cloud came and overshadowed” Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!'” Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his ascension and will reveal him as Son of man in glory on the day of his final coming.

CCC 697

Tomorrow’s Readings:
Numbers 30-31
Psalm 69
Luke 2:21-40

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