The Catholic Perspective

Last updated: December 05. 2013 4:37PM - 493 Views
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Father Patrick Toner
Father Patrick Toner
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Newgrange in Ireland is a mound structure built about 3,000 years before Christ. It features a portal window above the entrance which lets sunlight pass through at sunrise on the winter solstice. The sunlight marks a spot on an interior wall about 500 feet inside the mound. It is an example of what primitive peoples were able to discern about the cycle of the sun.

Many pagan calendars were able to determine the summer and winter solstice and the spring and fall equinox. These four significant signs in the heavens were given religious importance in those cultures. It is not a coincidence that God has created order in the heavens and mankind has looked upon that order in awe. It is already part of the lore of the Christmas story that Magi interpreted a star as having great meaning for Israel.

I believe this is the background for selecting Dec. 25 as the birthday of Jesus. There is no documentation. There is no birth certificate. There is no census data that confirms the date. Out of 365 days in a year, why pick Dec. 25?

The Old Testament is filled with foreshadowings of what God planned. Since the birth of Jesus is God’s plan, it is logical that God would order creation around that moment. Here is a New Testament chain of events that reflects a plan written in the heavens. Zechariah is in the temple to offer sacrifice. Luke’s description could have been about Yom Kippor, the Day of Atonement where the high priest enters the Holy of Holies. It would be a significant day for God’s plan for our salvation to begin. Yom Kippor may have occurred on the Fall Equinox. Over time, calendars had to be corrected because they forgot to count leap years. We are starting with Sept. 25 instead of the 21st which is now recognized as the equinox. Luke next reports Gabriel appearing to Mary six months later, or the Spring Equinox. The Catholic Church celebrates the Annunciation on March 25. Three months later John the Baptist is born on the Summer Solstice and six months after that Jesus is born on the Winter Solstice.

A link between John the Baptist and Jesus is found in John’s prophetic words: I must decrease and he must increase. John is born on the longest day of the year and then daylight begins to decrease. Jesus is born on the shortest day of the year and daylight begins to increase following his birth.

We can’t change the shift that happened in the calendar to make Christmas Dec. 21, so we accept the 25th as the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. You can have your Christmas in July but I am a traditionalist and plan to celebrate his birth on Dec. 25 as the highlight of my year.

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