Good Will Toward Mankind – All of It.

Making merry. Retail record-setting. The most wonderful time of the year. Solemn reflection and joyous celebrations. Are the Gospel authors contradictory in the Christmas story? While we are not told the specific date of birth of Jesus of Nazareth, are there some credible clues?

What the Records Indicate

Historical scholars’ estimations range between 3 – 5 BC. Most widely accepted is 4 BC. In December (as the Roman church traditionally celebrated with the Saturnian pagan holiday) the weather is cold enough in that region of Palestine to warrant the use of sheepfolds; thus, shepherds are not in the fields with the flocks. The angels appeared to shepherds in the field, as described in the Gospels of Luke and John.

The reign of Herod the Great, as in Matthew, was from 37 – 4 BC. (Encyclopaedia Britannica, article on Herod)

Caesar Augustus reigns (31 BC – 14 AD) as Emperor of Rome. (From, Outlines of Roman History, by William C. Morrey, Ph.D., DCL, New York, Cincinnati, Chicago:  American Book Company – 1901, Chapter XXIII.) Caesar instituted a national (“all the world”, meaning Roman world) tax, including Jews.

We may deduce that the tax Joseph was traveling to Bethlehem to pay was the Roman national tax, not a tax of Herod; therefore, both the local Judaean ruler and the Roman Caesar are alive at the time of the birth of Jesus, and the Gospels do not contradict one another. The times of Herod the Great and Caesar Augustus do overlap, even just before and immediately following the birth. Joseph certainly could be paying Caesar’s tax before the birth, and the Child be sought by Herod, who would not know of his specific whereabouts because he was not the one to whom that tax was paid.

Why Bother in December?

On a deeply personal level, I feel that any time a sizable piece of humanity (Christians and non-Christians who have adopted Christmas as a non-religious holiday) can come together to demonstrate the love of family by our gatherings and perhaps exchanging of gifts, it is a very good thing; more so if we can extend that good will to our friends, neighbors, and even strangers. I do not have to capture the good feelings of Christmas and dole them out only to the ‘deserving’. If someone were to wish me a Happy Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Ramadan (when it falls in Dec), I would  feel neither the least bit offended, nor that my civil rights were being persecuted. I would appreciate someone reaching out to wish me WELL. I believe the only reason Christians and non-Christians become upset with one another is when an inflamed ego gets in the way. “If you cannot agree with my point of view, then you are my enemy and I must convert you” (pseudo Christianity), or are “just blindly and stupidly following a myth.” (pseudo atheist enlightenment)

As an adult, I make my choices and you have no right to overrule me, as long as I’m not harming you. Just because you may not agree with me, does not give me any rights to ridicule or harass you. Each needs to respect the other.

To those whose choice it is not to celebrate any holiday, at all, I still wish peace and comfort. Though we may be different in some of life’s many choices, we are humans, together. Humanity affords us similarity in and of itself. We have struggles to find and sustain our daily needs – physical, emotional, mental and social. While we may have our individual, genetically-linked family, each one added to our nuclear birth family, such as with adoption or marriage, brings us closer together as a whole. Still beyond that, in this age of global communications, human society continues to expand.

There is so much that tries to divide us:  ignorance, prejudice, politics, sometimes misguided religion. These divisions bring about strife, hate and war. The world – this planet of human inhabitants – needs love to survive and a desire for harmony to achieve peace.

To my fellow Christians, I wish a truly Merry Christmas. May Jesus and His love and gentleness be your focus.

To all others, may love, peace, and harmony be yours not only now, but whenever possible in this tumultuous world; not relegated only to the last month of the year. Please, let’s all share the good will!

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~ by saginawrobin on December 3, 2013.

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