Sunday, June 6, 2010

Jesus: Adoration of the shepherds

Image: Adoration of the shepherds (of newborn Jesus), details from a painting of 1600's by Guido Reni (1575-1642), an Italian painter, draughtsman and etcher of high-Baroque style.

According to the gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea to Mary, a virgin, by a miracle of the Holy Spirit. The angel Gabriel visits Mary to tell her that she was chosen to bear the Son of God (Luke 1:26-38). An order of Caesar Augustus forced Mary and Joseph to leave their home in Nazareth and come to the house of David, the home of Joseph's ancestors, for the Census of Quirinius (Luke 2:1-5). After Jesus' birth, Mary and Joseph were forced to use a manger in place of a crib because of shortage of accommodation (Luke 2:1-7). In the meanwhile, an angel had announced Jesus' birth to shepherds who left their flocks to see the newborn Jesus. The shepherds went back and publicized what they had witnessed throughout the area (Luke 2:8-18).

According to Matthew, the ‘Wise Men’ or ‘Magi’ brought gifts to the nascent Jesus after following a star, which they believed, was a sign that the ‘King of the Jews’ was born (Mt. 2:1-12). Subsequently, King Herod heard of Jesus' birth from the Wise Men and tried to kill Jesus by massacring all the male children in Bethlehem under the age of two (Mt. 2:16-17). Joseph and Mary, along with the infant Jesus, fled to Egypt and remained there until Herod's death, whereupon they returned to Nazareth to avoid living under the authority of Herod's son and successor Archelaus (Mt. 2:19-23).

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