The birth of the Messiah is a momentous event and angels and archangels watch and wait and sing hosannas when so lofty a soul is brought to birth. Esoteric wisdom states that the Cherubim and Seraphim (the Lords of Cancer and Gemini) joined in the angelic chorus to announce the birth of the Master Jesus, singing, "Peace on earth, and good will toward men," a message fraught with deep esoteric significance, for with this birth a New Dispensation was ushered in, when at His Name every knee should bow and every voice proclaim His transcendent glory as Lord and Regent of the earth.
The archangels are now said to be the Lords of Capricorn. Jesus was born when the sun entered Capricorn, the sign of mastership, the awakener of the Christ consciousness and the ruler of the holy season, the Winter Solstice.
The birth of the World Savior was a cosmic event of unparalleled significance, and it is, therefore, not surprising that it is pictured in the skies from year to year. In the stars we may peruse a biography of the Great Ones who come to fulfill world missions. "As above, so below." In letters of flame, written so that those who will may read, we find in the starry vault of the heavens each year at the holy Christmas season the cosmic out- lines of the great Christ event.
At the time of the Winter Solstice, the Sun, the physical light of the material world, reaches its extreme southern declination, and is to the northern hemisphere partially dead so far as its beneficent, life-giving force is concerned. It then becomes necessary for a new "god of light," in a manner of speaking, to be born to save humanity from darkness, cold, famine and eventual death.
On the night of December 21, the Sun begins to rise slowly toward the earth's equator. Thus we say that a new Sun child is born at Christmas time. From about 10:00 p.m. until midnight of December 24th, in all northern latitudes, the sign Virgo, the Virgin of purity, of the Immaculate Conception and of the deified type of motherhood, is to be seen on the eastern horizon brooding over the holy birth, while in the belt of Orion shine the three stars called the Magi, or Wise Men who heralded the glad tidings of the Nativity. At the time of the Winter Solstice these stars are in the western sky opposite the Virgin upon the eastern horizon.
Tradition says that the morning after Jesus' birth a young shepherdess who had heard the angel choir hastened to offer the Holy Family a room in her own house and prepared a place for them to live in. In any case the Holy Family probably did not stay in the cave very long, for as the census progressed people returned to their homes and there was more room in the houses of the village. Joseph moved into one of these with his little family, and that was the "house" which the Magi entered some time later.
There for awhile dwelt the small baby Jesus, sweetly satisfied with the beautiful young mother, nursing at her breast and drifting off intermittently to commune in the heaven worlds. He grew accustomed to the big, quiet form of Joseph standing like a rock of firmness in the background.
"And when eight days were fulfilled for circumcision of the child, his name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb." Again St. Luke is speaking.
Boy babies were welcomed joyously in the Hebrew nation, as in many others of those times, but girls were less desired due to their inferior status in all but childbearing, according to the general consensus.
Circumcision was the distinguishing mark of membership in the chosen nation of Yahweh, the certificate of spiritual descent from Abraham, and of the right to share in the benefits of the covenant he had made with God. The boy must be circumcised on the eighth day after birth even if the day fell upon a Sabbath. Any Jew could perform the operation, but it was preferably done by the child's father and usually at home, often in the presence of relatives who joined in prayers. Thus in circumcision the first of his redeeming blood flowed forth, and the divine humility that was to shine forth in his Passion already manifested itself in Bethlehem.
Now the angel had said that the child would be called "the Son of the Most High," but he had come into the world as a descendant of Israel through the House of David, and the angel had not given any particular instructions which would exempt this new Israelite from the obligations binding on all others. Hence Mary and Joseph fulfilled their normal religious obligations.
And they also fulfilled the prescriptions binding on themselves. According to the Hebrew Law, a woman after childbirth was to be considered unclean and must keep to herself for forty days if her child was a boy, or eighty days if a girl. Then she was to present herself in the Temple for purification and make an offering, which, for the poor, was fixed at a pair of doves or pigeons. If the child was her first and a male, then according to Law he belonged to Yahweh like the firstling of the flocks and first-fruits of the field for "every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy unto God." Hence his parents had to redeem or "buy him back" by a token payment of five shekels to the Temple. Usually the young mother brought the child also to the Temple to invoke upon him the blessings of God.
This stems back from patriarchal times before the beginning of the Levitical priesthood, when the head of each family exercised the rights of priesthood which fell to the first-born son.
It was here in the temple that the aged Simeon and Anna rejoiced as they recognized in the babe their long awaited Savior.
Probably there were many people chattering on the porticoes of the temple, and the coming of a mother with a child to be purified was not an uncommon sight. However, someone in the court did recognize the mother and child, for Luke records the meeting. "And behold, there was in Jerusalem a man named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel." This aged man whose life had been dedicated in the service of God had purer eyes to see what was not visible to the sense-dulled vision of the throng, was attracted by the bright glow of light radiating from these three. The Holy Spirit was upon him and drew him to the Temple in time to see Jesus when the child was brought in, as it had been revealed to him that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Anointed. He received the babe into his arms rejoicing, and said, "Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Thy people Israel."
Mary and Joseph marveled at his words. There is not sufficient evidence to indicate that Simeon was a priest -- so it may be assumed that he was a pious layman who was waiting for the coming of the Messiah. In Luke 2:27-32 are recorded the words of Simeon. And of Mary he said, "And thine own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
Anna, an 84 year old prophetess, was also near. Left a widow after seven years of marriage, she had spent her life in the Temple courts in fasting and prayer. "And she, coming in the instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." Thus, even at the early age of forty days, Jesus had been recognized as the Savior -- the long awaited Messiah.
At this point in the narrative, "when they had accomplished all things that were according to the law of the Lord," Luke returns them to the town of Nazareth in Galilee, "and the child grew and became strong . . ."
But St. Matthew brings the infant into further and more intense experiences with the coming of the Magi who were the first Gentiles prophesied by Simeon, and the subsequent flight into Egypt.
It is believed that Joseph had planned to settle down with his family in Bethlehem, and that it was at least one year after the birth of Jesus that the Wise Men appeared.