The Gospel of the Day – 2015.12.20 (Sunday)
Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’
A Sad Reality
The writers of Mark began their gospel when Jesus of Nazareth, otherwise known as Joshua son of Joseph, was a man; he was an adult and at the beginning of his public ministry.
The early Christians wanted more, and so the authors of Luke went back in time and narrated a fable about his conception and birth. In this fable, or myth (whatever you think it should be called) they attempted to tie up various loose ends in the stories that were being told about Jesus, and also to unite different factions of the Christian movement in their time. This particular piece of the narrative was meant to appeal to the followers of John the Baptist. It brought forth the notion that Jesus and John were actually cousins, and that even though John was older, he was a follower of Jesus from the time he was in the womb. Just as John’s mother was subordinate to Mary.
It is a story, a fable, a myth; the whole thing is a fiction.
It is unfortunate, because a great deal of theology and doctrine has been hung from these exercises in make believe. And these fictions were in themselves naked political calculations meant to manipulate the burgeoning movement.
The succeeding Gospels each in their turn reached back further in time. The writers of Matthew inserted a confusing genealogy; tracing Jesus’ heritage back to Adam, through David on his father’s side. And yet, at the same time we are to believe that Joseph was not his biological father.
While the writers of John begin their narrative with the beginning of time itself.
It is sad to note, that over the centuries, what people believed about these fables, ended up being the cause of extreme, bitter and deadly partisan conflict among Christians. Never mind the actual teaching of Jesus; to love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.
The Fourth Sunday of Advent