According to www.todayonline.com., Pope Benedict is setting the record straight that “the ox and the donkey — regular fixtures around the manger — are latter-day inventions nowhere to be seen in the gospels.”
In addressing the birth of Jesus of Nazareth as well as myths surrounding the newly born infant Jesus in a manger with Mary and Joseph, the Pope states in his latest book on the life of Christ, “In the gospels there is no mention of animals.”
Nevertheless, the Vatican will continue to include animals in the nativity scenes set up in St. Peter’s Square, according to the online article. It went on to say, “Pope Benedict concedes that the tradition is here to stay, stating, ‘No nativity scene will give up its ox and donkey.’”
In analyzing the moment angels descended to tell shepherds the son of God was lying in a manger, the article said, “In a blow to fans of the carol, ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,’ Pope Benedict writes: ‘According to the evangelist, the angels ‘said’ this.”
The pope added that “Jesus’ birth date was off by a few years after a sixth century monk made an error in his calculations,” the article stated. Did you know that no animals are mentioned at the scene of the birth of Christ at Luke 2:7 or that the angels are not described at Luke 2:13-14 as singing, but “saying” “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will”? — Douay-Rheims Version.
Even the birth date of Jesus is said to be off due to an error in calculations. For some believers, such fallacies have raised concerns about the possibility of other unscriptural ideas associated with the birth of Christ.
For example, does the Bible ever mention there were only three wise men who came to visit Jesus? Read Matthew chapter 2:1-10 and notice it never gives a number. This too is a misconception. Look carefully at Matthew 2:11 and notice that by the time these wise men arrived with gifts, Jesus was no longer a babe in a manger but described as a child in a “house.” So, Scripturally speaking, they were not even present on the night Jesus was born.
As far as the monk’s miscalculation about the year Jesus was born, there is an even more disturbing miscalculation. According to Luke 2:8, on the night Jesus was born there were “shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.” — New King James Version. Most Bible scholars agree that this description does not fit the cold, rainy season of December in Jerusalem as described in Scriptures like Ezra 10:9, 13 and Jeremiah 36:22.
Biblical scholar Joseph Mede was quoted as saying, “Christ could not be born in the depth of winter. Again, at the time of Christ’s birth, the shepherds lay abroad watching with their flocks in the night time; but this was not likely to be in the middle of winter. And if any shall think the winter wind was not so extreme in these parts, let him remember the words of Christ in the gospel, ‘Pray that your flight be not in the winter.’ (Matt. 24:20) If the winter was so bad a time to flee in, it seems no fit time for shepherds to lie in the fields in, and women and children to travel in.” — “The Two Babylons.”
Regarding the date Dec. 25, Pope John Paul II admitted on Dec. 22, 1993, “On that day in pagan antiquity, the birthday of the ‘invincible Sun’ was celebrated to coincide with the winter solstice. It seemed logical and natural to Christians to replace that feast with the celebration of the only and true Sun, Jesus Christ.”
The New Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges, “The date of Christ’s birth is not known. The Gospels indicate neither the day nor the month. On Dec. 25, 274, Aurelian had proclaimed the sun-god principal patron of the empire.”
A press release from the Vatican stated, “The festival of Christmas appeared for the first time in 354 (A.D.)” If all these statements are true, that means — Scripturally speaking — on the undocumented night Jesus was born, there were no animals, no angels singing, no three wise men, no people giving gifts and, consequently, no star suspended over a manger to mark the birth of our Lord.
In his book, “The Trouble With Christmas,” author Tom Flynn said, “An enormous number of traditions we now associate with Christmas have their roots in pre-Christian pagan religious traditions. Once we dispose of the pre-Christian elements, most of what remains is post-Christian, rather than authentically Christian, in origin.”
Would Jesus encourage his followers to merge true worship with such pagan customs, deceptive images and misconceptions for the sake of honoring a holiday tradition? You decide. At Matthew 15:3, Jesus asked the religious leaders of his day, “Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” — New International Version.
How would you answer such a question? By asking ourselves “What would Jesus do?” we might start a much greater tradition — that of constantly improving our worship to God.
*For a copy of The Little White Book of Light featuring more Wright Way columns, visit barnesandnoble.com, booksamillion.com and amazon.com.