October - December 2004, No. 21

The Rosary Crusade Clarion

The Nativity of Jesus
By Rev. Fr. Emanuel Herkel SSPX

Fr. Emanuel Herkel


Why was it necessary for our Lord Jesus Christ to be born in a stable?† There were lodgings for many others in Bethlehem; only the Holy Family seems to have been cast off by everyone.† We must remember, as we contemplate the third mystery of the Rosary, that all the events of our Lordís birth and indeed of His whole life, were of His own free choice.† By divine power He foreknew and predestined events; and so we may seek in these events what is for our instruction and example.

Our Lord was born amid poverty and insults.† The poverty of the stable was extreme.† Surely, if Mary and Joseph had riches, no door would have been closed against them.† It was due to their poverty that there was no room in the inn.† The search for basic shelter led the Holy Family out into the fields around the city of Bethlehem.† There, in a place fit for animals, dirty and smelly and cold, Mary and Joseph made what preparations they could for the birth of the Divine Child.† Probably they had a few blankets and the rags which were swaddling clothes, but only what they had carried with them from Nazareth.† For lack of a cradle, the Infant Jesus was laid in a manger, and warmed by the breath of an ox and a donkey.†

The Nativity of Jesus

Such poverty has been the affliction of many families at difficult times.† But in this case the poverty was an insult, for it was a great insult to ignore the birth of Christ.† The Lord of the world came to the earth He had created, to the Jewish race which He had privileged, and even to the city of David Ė to His own human family Ė and no one opened their doors to receive Him.† His birth was not unannounced; it had been long ago foretold by the prophets, even the date and the place were revealed by Daniel and Micheas.† But the chosen people did not prepare for the coming of their Saviour, and when Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, expecting to find a welcome, they found none.

In order that the newborn King might not be completely without honour, He sent His angels to announce His birth to the poor shepherds in the fields, and they, at least, came to adore.† How easily the same angels could have sung over Bethlehem, or over the whole world, calling all men to venerate and respectfully honour our Lord, yet they did not.† They were sent only to a few men of simple faith.† The other Jews had Moses and the Prophets, from whom they could have learned of the birth of the Messiah, had they desired to know.† All this happened according to the divine plan, simply to have an occasion for suffering insults.

Consider also how Jesus was treated by the world soon after His birth.† It did not remain a secret for long.† A new star appeared in the sky.† Wise men came from the East, and caused an uproar in the capital by asking for the newborn King of the Jews.† Now, surely, all Jerusalem would come to adore the Infant Jesus. Herod the King received the Wise Men, and he profited by this interview only to begin the first plot against the life of the Christ.† Priests of the Temple read the ancient prophecies and directed the Wise Men, but none of those priests, even then, was willing to accompany them.†

Instead, they waited for Herod to act, and the first Jewish men from Jerusalem who went in search of the Christ Child, went with hatred to seek after his life.† Such was the welcome which the world prepared for the Saviour.† In order to escape death, at least for a time, Jesus was obliged to be carried into a foreign land.

As we approach the feast of Christmas, and every day when we pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, we should relive in our minds the events of our Saviourís birth.† We must not be like the thousands who, though aware of Christís birth, did not go to adore Him.† We wish to be numbered among the few who came to kneel beside the manger.† Those who adored the Christ Child were the poor shepherds of the fields, who were humbled by circumstances, and the rich men of the East, who were humble enough to be wise and to discern the Divinity under the appearance of a baby.† If we too are truly humble, we will make some reparation for the poverty and insults of the first Christmas.† He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.† It is for us to receive our Lord, by opening our hearts with love towards the lovely Babe of Bethlehem.

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