The Nativity: The Birth of the Saviour


Are we ready? The birth of our saviour is almost upon us. Let's take a look back, waaaay back, at what transpired on that fateful day.

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Mary was heavy with child when she and Joseph travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem because of a census taking exercise which required Joseph to return to his ancestral home – Bethlehem. It was a journey of about 100 miles through tough semi-desert terrain on a donkey. Then Mary’s time came. But there was no room at the inns until someone suggested a warm place just outside the town – a stable where the animals were kept from the cold at night.


There they settled without a midwife, and Mary delivered her baby without too much fuss. Was Mary worried? This was not even a home delivery, and Joseph was hardly a gynae or even a male nurse. But Mary, full of grace must have known in her utter faith that everything would be alright remembering what the angel Gabriel had told her at the Annunciation nine months back. For she had said “ I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me as you have said ”, (Lk 1:38) and she later proclaimed the greatness of the Lord and saying “ my spirit exults in God my saviour”. (Lk1: 46-47). This was no ordinary birth, neither an ordinary baby. It was already prophesied in Isa 7 :14 that “ the Virgin is with child and bears a son and calls his name Immanuel” meaning God with us.


And there were extraordinary signs to show the birth of the Messiah (Anointed One) to the shepherds in the field keeping watch over their flocks at night. A bright star and an angel appeared to announce that the Saviour had been born and He was the Messiah and the Lord. The angel told them where to find the child wrapped up in “swaddling clothes” and lying in a manger. Many more angels appeared praising God and giving the message , “Glory to God in the Highest; peace on earth for God is blessing humankind.” (Lk 2:11-14).

As the word spread of this joyful but “threatening” event, King Herod summoned his wise men who had seen the bright star in the east, to gather more precise information on the birth of the Messiah, on the pretext that he may want to also pay a visit. The wise men again guided by the star, were overjoyed to see the child and His mother. They knelt down and worshipped Him and opened their bags of gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. (Matt 2 : 7-12). However they were warned in a dream not to return to King Herod.


Such were the humble beginnings of our Saviour amidst joy and threats to his life. Notwithstanding the circumstances when his birth took place, people in that era with the help of extraordinary signs from God, believed He was their Messiah who has come to set them free from sins and to set the captives free. While many were looking forward for an earthly king to free them from the yoke of a colonial government, Jesus’ kingship was going to challenge the existing political and religious structures meant to safeguard their power and which imprisoned the common people. God’s plan for change however, was a kingship not of this earth.

We need to thank Mary for saying “yes”, her fiat to God’s plan even though she wasn’t yet aware of how the plan would work out. She was willing to go through the 9 months and suffer the pangs of childbirth, and then look after a special child meant for greater things. It was through her strong faith that she allowed herself to be a vessel and brought to fruition God’s plan and we have Christianity today. It was this collaboration in the saving mission of Christ that made it possible for God the Father to work out His plan of salvation for us.