Advent Day 48 of 50: Not Matthew and Not Luke
There are three Nativity narratives. Two of them are the popular stories around which most Christmas celebrations take place.
In the Gospel of Matthew we briefly encounter the conception, and announcement of the virgin birth of Christ to Joseph. Wise men from the East visit Jesus and bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Because there are three gifts, most traditions believe there were three men, even though the Gospel does not specify the number of men. Beautiful stories and legends have evolved about the travels of the “Three Wise Men.” Following their visit we read one of the horror stories of the New Testament, “The Massacre of the Innocents” (Matthew 2:16-18). After a stay in Egypt, the Holy Family settles in Nazareth, and Jesus was therefore known as a “Nazarene.”
The Gospel of Luke, where the second Nativity narrative is found, is a bit more descriptive. It begins with the conception of both Jesus and his kinsman John the Baptist. We read about the miraculous birth of both and the meeting of their mothers, Elizabeth and Mary. A precious song sung by Mary the Asdvadzadzin glorifying the Lord. Prophecies are exchanged about Jesus and John. The Birth of Jesus takes place during a trip that Joseph and Mary have taken to comply with a census. Jesus is born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and laid in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (2:7) Angels and heavenly hosts sang the praises of God. Beyond the Birth of Christ, Luke records Jesus’ presentation at the temple 40 days after his birth and Simeon’s proclamation (2:22-35). He also recounts a story of the 12 year old Jesus, who amazes scholars at the temple.
Both Matthew and Luke pick up Jesus’ biographical sketches at age 30 at the River Jordon where he was baptized, the beginning point of his ministry. These are the stories that have inspired Hallmark writers to produce cards and movies for the Christmas season and holiday. Front lawns are adorned with nativity sets and bright lights remind us of the path the Wise Men took. There is one more Nativity narrative which is not often shared, but is the cornerstone for Armodoxy. We will visit that story tomorrow as our Advent season comes to a close.
Today, we read the Song of Mary, sometimes referred to as the Magnificat, in Armenian, Medzadzustseh “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)