Contemplating Jesus

The Births of Jesus

Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

James Tissot (l836-1902) 

Each year at Christmas we remember and celebrate Jesus’ incarnation, the breaking through of God’s light in a tiny baby born in a stable.
We remember Mary and Joseph, the star in the east, a chorus of angels, shepherds in the fields at night and kings travelling from afar.
We sing “Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth peace to people of goodwill.”

Children understand Christmas in their way. Come to the manger, look at the babe and bear your gifts, Jesus is with us. Advent and Christmas though are traditionally recognized as times of spiritual preparation, of transformation from what is held in darkness to what is hoped for in love.

A seventeenth-century French priest, Pierre de Bérulle, wrote that Jesus underwent three births in his mortal life: his temporal birth which we celebrate at Christmas, his spiritual birth, which took place at his baptism and initiated his public ministry, and his birth into eternity after his death and resurrection. In the Gospel of John (3: 3-8) Jesus speaks of entering the kingdom of God in this world by being born of water and the Spirit. “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” Jesus emphasizes that we must not be surprised by the fact that we are to be “born again.”

Jesus’ three births – temporal, spiritual and eternal – teach us that “with God, every moment is the moment of beginning again” ** in not only our material lives, but our spiritual lives, and the eternal life that awaits us.

(** Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Nov 8, 2008)

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