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Nine Lessons for Christmas


3.  The Birth of Jesus

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew.


Such was his intention when, behold,

the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,

“Joseph, son of David,

do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.

  For it is through the holy Spirit

that this child has been conceived in her.

  She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, 

because he will save his people from their sins.”


All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,

and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

  which means “God is with us.”


When Joseph awoke,

he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him

and took his wife into his home.


He had no relations with her until she bore a son, 

and he named him Jesus.


MT 1:20-25



Lesson 3


Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises recorded in the Old Testament


Joseph’s decision to divorce Mary is overcome by the heavenly command that he take her into his home and accept the child as his own.  The natural genealogical line is broken but the promises to David are fulfilled; through Joseph’s adoption the child belongs to the family of David.


In the Old Testament “the angel of the Lord” a common designation of God in communication with a human being.   These dreams may be meant to recall the dreams of Joseph, son of Jacob the patriarch (Genesis 37:5–1119).


Jesus: in first-century Judaism the Hebrew name Joshua (Greek Iēsous) meaning “Yahweh helps” was interpreted as “Yahweh saves.”


God is with us: God’s promise of deliverance to Judah in Isaiah’s time is seen by Matthew as fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, in whom God is with his people. The name Emmanuel is alluded to at the end of the gospel where the risen Jesus assures his disciples of his continued presence, “…I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).


Until she bore a son: the evangelist is concerned to emphasize that Joseph was not responsible for the conception of Jesus.  The Greek word translated “until” does not imply normal marital conduct after Jesus’ birth, nor does it exclude it.




Father, we are filled with the new light by the coming of Jesus among us.

May the light of faith shine in our words and actions.