After Jesus was born, three wise men came to look for Him. Most probably they lived in an area which is now in either Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Yemen. Although they are often called the ‘Three Kings’, the Bible does not say how many there were, or that they were kings. Three is just a guess because in the Bible only three gifts are mentioned. However, for sure, they were definitely intelligent men. Today we would call them astrologers.
Back then astronomy and astrology were part of the same overall science. The magi would have followed the patterns of the stars and found out that something extraordinary had happenned. They would have also probably been very rich and held high esteem in their own society. They had seen an unusual new star in the sky, and knew that it told of the birth of a special king. Legends are told about them and they have been given names. King Herod asked the Wise Men about Jesus and wanted to know where he was. His wish was not to go and worship him, but he wanted kill him! He thought that Jesus sounded like a new King that could come and take his power away. When the wise men found Jesus and Mary, they had already been living in a normal house in Bethlehem, because by that time Jesus would have been already two years old. Then they gave their gifts to him. The gifts seem quite strange to give to a baby, but we believe that they had symbolic meanings.
It-tfal tal-klassi ta’ Ms Audrey għamlu bosta attivitajiet u krafts relatati maż-żmien sabiħ tal-Milied. Matul ix-xahar ta’ Diċembru fil-klassi ta’ Ms Audrey kien hemm ukoll żewġ studenti tal-MCAST, Ms Maria u Ms Kylie u dawn huma xi xogħol li għamlu t-tfal flimkien fil-klassi. Il-ferħ u l-pjaċir kien jidħer biċ-ċar fuq wiċċ it-tfal f’dan iż-żmien sabiħ tal-Milied.
At that time, shepherds were seen as people of little value. The sheep that they bred would have probably been used for sacrifice in the temple in near-by Jerusalem. They were quietly getting on with their own business when suddenly an angel appeared to them. The angel told them about Jesus and his amazing birth. The angels sang beautiful songs. Being quite curious about what the angels had told them, the shepherds went down into Bethlehem, maybe leaving a shepherd or two behind to keep guard on the sheep. The shepherds probably found Joseph, Mary and Jesus with the help of local women, running errands in the busy town. When they had found the place and told Mary and Joseph what had happened to them, the shepherds began glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen. Then many people got to know about this amazing birth – they were the people they met on the way back to the hills, their friends and relatives in Bethlehem and Jerusalem and the people they met in the temple where they took their sheep to be sold.
December is here and it is that special time of the year when we are all eagerly waiting for the arrival of the special baby – Jesus. Can you imagine how confused Mary might have been: she was definetely happy as she was about to become a mother; at the same time she probably was a bit worried as well. She was unaware of the future and she was surely feeling very responsable for being chosen to become the mother of God!
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. We all now the story of how the angel Gabriel was sent to tell Mary that God had chosen her to become the mother of Jesus. Mary lived in her own little house in Nazareth in Galilee, possibly with her parents, and she accepted God’s wish in perfect humility and answered “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to your word.” After a number of months, when Joseph was told of her conception in a dream by “an angel of the Lord”, he was surprised; but the angel told him not to be afraid and take Mary as his wife, Since the angel Gabriel had told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was miraculously pregnant, Mary hurried to see Elizabeth, who was living with her husband Zechariah. Mary arrived at the house and greeted Elizabeth who called Mary “the mother of my Lord”, and Mary spoke the words of praise to God. After about three months, Mary returned to her own house.
Shortly afterwards, according to the Gospel of Saint Luke, a decree of the Roman Emperor Augustus required that Joseph returned to his home town of Bethlehem to be enrolled in the census. While he was there with Mary, she gave birth to Jesus; but because there was no place for them in the inn, she used a manger as a cradle. After eight days the baby was named “Jesus” which means “God saves” in accordance with the instructions that the angel had given to both Mary and Joseph.
The census that was ordered by Caesar Augustus was the first of its kind. It was done because the Roman Government wanted to make sure that everyone in the Empire was paying their taxes correctly. The census was carried out all over the Empire. This meant that families had to register in their native town rather than in the town where they lived. This also meant that Joseph and Mary had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, as this was the town that Joseph’s family originally came from – a journey of about 112 kilometres.
The journey would have taken about three days and they arrived in the evening. As many people had travelled to Bethlehem for the census, all the houses were full. So Joseph and Mary had to spend the night with the animals in a stable, cave or even a covered market stall. It was the custom in those times to wrap a new born baby very tightly in long bandages called swaddling clothes. The arms and legs of the baby were also wrapped, so they couldn’t move. This was done because they thought it helped the baby to grow strong, straight limbs! And as no proper crib was available, the new baby boy was placed in a manger. This must have been an amazing scene, but was exactly how the angels had described things to the shepherds up on the hills surrounding Bethlehem!