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36. The Manifestation of the New-Born Christ

1. The birth of Christ was not manifested at once to allmankind. Had Christ been so manifested, the redemption by the crosswould have been hindered; for, as St. Paul says (I Cor. 2:8):"If they had known it, they would never have crucified theLord of glory." Moreover, universal manifestation of the birthof the Savior would have lessened the merit of faith, which is"the evidence of things that appear not" (Heb. 11:1), andthe reality of his human nature would have been more easilydoubted.

2. Yet the Nativity had to be manifested, even as theResurrection had later to be manifested, "not to all thepeople, but to witnesses preordained by God" (Acts 10:41). Ifthe birth had been hidden from all, it could have profitednone.

3. The birth of Christ was indeed made known "tothose preordained." These witnesses of the Nativity, and ofthe divinity of the Child, represented all nations and conditions,for they were male and female, Jew and Gentile, namely, theshepherds, the Magi, Simeon, Anna.

4. Had God directly manifested the Redeemer's birthinstead of using creatures (the angels, the star), it would havebeen easy for people to doubt that our Lord was true man. It wasmuch better for us all that the birth was manifested in the way inwhich it actually was manifested.

5. Knowledge is given by means of things familiar to thosewho receive it. Now, the Jews were accustomed to the receiving ofdivine instruction through the ministry of angels. And the Gentileswere wont to observe the course of the stars. Hence, whilespiritual-minded people like Anna and Simeon received themanifestation of Christ's birth by interior revelation, themore material or worldly people had to be taught by signs andwonders.

6. Christ's birth was first made known to theshepherds; these men represent the apostles and all the believersamong the Jews. Then the birth was manifested to the Gentiles inthe persons of the Magi. Finally it was again manifested to theJews represented by the holy Simeon and Anna.

7. The star of the Nativity was not a regular part of theheavenly system; it was a newly-created star, and was not in thehigh firmament, but near the earth. For scripture (Matt. 2:9) saysthat "it came and stood over where the child was." Somehave taught that this star was a power endowed with reason. Somehave wondered whether it were not a visible manifestation of theHoly Ghost, like the dovethat appeared in our Lord'sbaptism by John. Others again have believed that the angel whoappeared in human form to the shepherds, appeared to the Magi inthe form of the star. But it seems most just to say that the starof the Nativity was a newly-created heavenly body near the earth.Pope St. Leo says (Serm. De Epiph. xxxi), that the starmust have been more bright and beautiful than the other stars, forits appearance instantly convinced the Magi that it had an urgentand important meaning.

8. The Magi were the "first fruits of the Gentiles."Their faith in Christ was a kind of forecast of the coming faith ofall nations in the Incarnate Word. The Magi were inspired by theHoly Ghost to come and pay homage to Christ.

"A single act of uniformity with the divine will suffices to make a saint."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God's will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"It is not God's will that we should abound in spiritual delights, but that in all things we should submit to his holy will."
Blessed Henry Suso

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