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And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord.... Luke 1. 46

Some people are surprised to learn that the stories of Jesus' birth, rehearsed by countless Primary and Sunday Schools every Christmas, are culled from only two of the Gospels - Matthew and Luke - and they are very different. But maybe that is why we have four Gospels and not one? In his, John insists that, if all the stories of Jesus were written down, the world would not have room for all the books! So we should expect the various authors to be selective in what they feature and in the details they include.

What Matthew and Luke do agree on is the miraculous circumstances of Jesus' birth and, particularly, that he was conceived miraculously. Mary is the hero, on account of her courage, obedience and faith. Joseph is not as prominent, yet deserves recognition for not abandoning Mary and for his own willingness to trust God.

While acknowledging the special circumstances we associate with the divinity of Jesus, it is important to recognise the authenticity of his humanity, an essential element of which was his submission to his earthly parents. This is not found only in his willingness to obey them but also in his openness to their teaching. From whom else would he have learned the practices of a faithful Jew, his appreciation of nature and his ability to tell stories?



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