Advent Series - December 24 - Last One!!!
A Blessed Christmas and a Happy and Holy New Year!
Yesterday we talked about how the Greeks took over Judea, and how the Machabees fought the Greek Seleucids.
Judah Machabeus and his brothers belonged to the Hasmonean family. The Hasmoneans continued to rule Judea and for some time, Judea was independent. The territory of Judea expanded northward to include 2 non-Jewish regions; Sumeria and Idumaea.
During this time, the Jews were mainly concerned with keeping their independence, and the purity of the Jewish religion.
The Pharisees and the Saducees came into existence, as well as the Sanhedrin.
The Sanhedrin was a council of 71 Jewish leaders who made important decisions.
Meanwhile, the Roman Empire had grown very powerful. So far, Judea was on friendly terms with Rome, but things were about to change.
The leader of Judea died and his 2 sons fought over who would become the next ruler. An Idumean named Antipater saw his chance to gain power. Antipater made a deal with the Romans to take over Judea.
In 62 B.C. the Roman Army entered Jerusalem. In 47 B.C. Judea officially became a Roman province, and Antipater (who himself was not a Jew) was put in charge as Rome’s procurator.
This was prophesied by Jacob (Israel) when he said,
“The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruler from his thigh, till he come that is to be sent, and he shall be the expectation of nations.” (Genesis 49:10)
By this time Rome had expanded to include most of the known world. Julius Caesar was the Roman ruler, but he would be assasinated in 44 B.C. (“Et tu, Brute!”)
Julius Caesar’s grand nephew and heir; Octavian took over leadership with Mark Antony.
In 37 B.C. Antipater’s son, Herod succeeded his father as procurator.
Although he worked for Rome, Herod made everyone call him “King Herod the Great”.
Meanwhile, Mark Antony (and Cleopatra) began fighting Octavian over who would rule Rome. Octavian won and took the name Caesar Augustus in 27 B.C. Caesar Augustus ruled from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14.
St. Jerome said that this was the first time that the world was truly united and there was no war. The Romans built roads connecting every country, and everyone spoke Latin. Conditions were just right for the spreading of the Gospel.
“And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled…and Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.” (Luke 2)
Our Lord was from the line of King David. Like King David, He was born in Bethlehem and would later rule (from the cross) in Jerusalem.
“And it came to pass that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Our Lord was placed in a “manger” (a place for feeding), in the town of Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread”. This prefigures the Holy Eucharist. Jesus is the Bread of Life; Who comes to us in Holy Communion.
“And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them…And the angel said to them: Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy…For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2)
Rulers may fight for power and kingdoms rise and fall, but God does not change.
May the Infant Jesus; the Eternal Word made flesh; bless you on His birthday!