Some of the oldest Jewish portions of apocrypha are called Primary Adam Literature where some works became Christianized. Some modern scholars, such as James Barr , Moshe Greenberg , and Michael Fishbane , see the story of Adam and Eve as a representation of a rise to moral agency, at least as much as, if not more than the story of a fall from grace. Carol Meyers and Bruce Naidoff view the tale as an explanation of agricultural conditions in the highlands of Canaan.
It was also recognized in ancient Judaism , that there are two distinct accounts for the creation of man. The first account says "male and female [God] created them", implying simultaneous creation, whereas the second account states that God created Eve subsequent to the creation of Adam. The Midrash Rabbah — Genesis VIII:1 reconciled the two by stating that Genesis one, "male and female He created them", indicates that God originally created Adam as a hermaphrodite ,  bodily and spiritually both male and female, before creating the separate beings of Adam and Eve.
Other rabbis suggested that Eve and the woman of the first account were two separate individuals, the first being identified as Lilith , a figure elsewhere described as a night demon. In Reform Judaism , Harry Orlinsky analyzes the Hebrew word nefesh in Genesis where "God breathes into the man's nostrils and he becomes nefesh hayya. He points out that "nefesh" signifies something like the English word "being", in the sense of a corporeal body capable of life; the concept of a " soul " in the modern sense, did not exist in Hebrew thought until around the 2nd century B.
Some early fathers of the Christian church held Eve responsible for the Fall of man and all subsequent women to be the first sinners because Eve tempted Adam to commit the taboo. Medieval Christian art often depicted the Edenic Serpent as a woman often identified as Lilith , thus both emphasizing the serpent's seductiveness as well as its relationship to Eve. Several early Church Fathers , including Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius of Caesarea , interpreted the Hebrew "Heva" as not only the name of Eve, but in its aspirated form as "female serpent.
Based on the Christian doctrine of the Fall of man , came the doctrine of original sin. St Augustine of Hippo — , working with a Latin translation of the Epistle to the Romans , interpreted the Apostle Paul as having said that Adam's sin was hereditary: "Death passed upon [i. This doctrine became a cornerstone of Western Christian theological tradition, however, not shared by Judaism or the Orthodox churches.
Over the centuries, a system of unique Christian beliefs had developed from these doctrines. Baptism became understood as a washing away of the stain of hereditary sin in many churches, although its original symbolism was apparently rebirth. Additionally, the serpent that tempted Eve was interpreted to have been Satan , or that Satan was using a serpent as a mouthpiece , although there is no mention of this identification in the Torah and it is not held in Judaism. Conservative Protestants typically interpret Genesis 3 as defining humanity's original parents as Adam and Eve who disobeyed God's prime directive that they were not to eat "the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" NIV.
When they disobeyed, they committed a major transgression against God and were immediately punished, which led to " the fall " of humanity. Thus, sin and death entered the universe for the first time. Adam and Eve were ejected from the Garden of Eden, never to return. Gnostic Christianity discussed Adam and Eve in two known surviving texts, namely the " Apocalypse of Adam " found in the Nag Hammadi documents and the " Testament of Adam ".
The creation of Adam as Protoanthropos , the original man, is the focal concept of these writings. Another Gnostic tradition held that Adam and Eve were created to help defeat Satan.
The serpent, instead of being identified with Satan, is seen as a hero by the Ophites. Still other Gnostics believed that Satan's fall, however, came after the creation of humanity. As in Islamic tradition, this story says that Satan refused to bow to Adam due to pride. Satan said that Adam was inferior to him as he was made of fire, whereas Adam was made of clay. This refusal led to the fall of Satan recorded in works such as the Book of Enoch. In al-Qummi's tafsir on the Garden of Eden , such place was not entirely earthly.
As a result, they were both sent down to Earth as God's representatives. Each person was sent to a mountain peak: Adam on al-Safa , and Eve on al-Marwah. In this Islamic tradition, Adam wept 40 days until he repented, after which God sent down the Black Stone , teaching him the Hajj. There is also a legend of a younger son, named Rocail, who created a palace and sepulcher containing autonomous statues that lived out the lives of men so realistically they were mistaken for having souls. The concept of "original sin" does not exist in Islam , because according to Islam Adam and Eve were forgiven by God.
I am made of pure fire and he is made of soil. In Swahili literature , Eve ate from the forbidden tree, thus causing her expulsion, after being tempted by Iblis. Thereupon, Adam heroically eats from the forbidden fruit in order to follow Eve and protect her on earth. While a traditional view was that the Book of Genesis was authored by Moses and has been considered historical and metaphorical, modern scholars consider the Genesis creation narrative as one of various ancient origin myths.
Analysis like the documentary hypothesis also suggests that the text is a result of the compilation of multiple previous traditions, explaining apparent contradictions. With scientific developments in paleontology, geology, biology and other disciplines, it was discovered that humans, and all other living things, share the same common ancestor which evolved through natural processes, over billions of years to form the life we see today.
In biology the most recent common ancestors , when traced back using the Y-chromosome for the male lineage and mitochondrial DNA for the female lineage, are commonly called the Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve , respectively. These do not fork from a single couple at the same epoch even if the names were borrowed from the Tanakh. John Milton 's Paradise Lost , a famous 17th-century epic poem written in blank verse , explores and elaborates upon the story of Adam and Eve in great detail.
As opposed to the Biblical Adam, Milton's Adam is given a glimpse of the future of mankind, by the archangel Michael , before he has to leave Paradise. American painter Thomas Cole painted The Garden of Eden , with lavish detail of the first couple living amid waterfalls, vivid plants, and attractive deer. Moore 's story Fruit of Knowledge is a re-telling of the Fall of Man as a love triangle between Lilith , Adam and Eve — with Eve's eating the forbidden fruit being in this version the result of misguided manipulations by the jealous Lilith, who had hoped to get her rival discredited and destroyed by God and thus regain Adam's love.
They even assist Him in naming the animals. When Eve is tempted by the serpent and eats the forbidden fruit, Father makes Adam choose between Him and Eden, or Eve. Adam chooses Eve and eats the fruit, causing Father to banish them into the wilderness and destroying the Tree of Knowledge, from which Adam carves a staff.
Eve gives birth to Cain and Abel, and Adam forbids his children from going beyond the waterfall in hopes Father will forgive them and bring them back to Eden. When Cain and Abel grow up, Cain breaks his promise and goes beyond the waterfall, finding the giant stones made by other humans, which he brings the family to see, and Adam reveals his discovery from the past: during their infancy, he discovered these humans, but had kept it secret.
He tries to forbid Cain from seeking them out, which causes Cain to become enraged and he tries to attack Adam, but instead turns his rage to Abel when he tries to stop him and kills him. Later, when an elderly Eve tries to speak to Father, she tells how Adam continually looked for Cain, and after many years, he dies and is buried underneath the waterfall. Eve also gave birth to Seth, which expanded hers and Adam's generations.
Finally, Father speaks to her to bring her home.
So What About Eve
Before she dies, she gives her blessings to all her future generations, and passes Adam's staff to Seth. Father embraces Eve and she also reunited with Adam and Abel. In Ray Nelson 's novel Blake's Progress the poet William Blake and his wife Kate travel to the end of time where the demonic Urizen offers them his own re-interpretation of the Biblical story: "In this painting you see Adam and Eve listening to the wisdom of their good friend and adviser, the serpent.
One might even say he was their Savior. He gave them freedom, and he would have given them eternal life if he'd been allowed to. Lewis ' science fiction novel " Perelandra ", the story of Adam and Eve is re-enacted on the Planet Venus - but with a different ending. A green-skinned pair, who are destined to be the ancestors of Venusian humanity, are living in naked innocence on wonderful floating islands which are the Venusian Eden; a demonically-possessed Earth scientist arrives in a spaceship, acting the part of the snake and trying to tempt the Venusian Eve into disobeying God; but the protagonist, Cambridge scholar Ransom, succeeds in thwarting him - so that Venusian humanity will have a glorious future, free of Original Sin.
Adam and Eve by Maarten van Heemskerck. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This is the latest accepted revision , reviewed on 5 July For other uses, see Adam and Eve disambiguation. Biblical figures. Main articles: Adam and Eve. Main article: Genesis creation narrative. Main article: Fall of man.
Main article: Genealogies of Genesis. Main articles: Fall of man and Original sin. See also: Gnostics. Main article: Historicity of the Bible. Adam and Eve by Titian , c. Symbols and Meaning: A Concise Introduction. Walnut Creek Retrieved 16 August Creation myths are symbolic stories describing how the universe and its inhabitants came to be. Creation myths develop through oral traditions and therefore typically have multiple versions. In Ma'oz, Moshe ed. Eastbourne : Sussex Academic Press. The Second Jewish Book of Why 2nd, revised ed. Ancient Near Eastern Art.
University of California Press. Retrieved 27 April Carol L. The Jewish Study Bible. Oxford University Press. The Documents of the Hexateuch, Volume 1. The Empowerment of Women in the Book of Jubilees, p. Adambuch des Morgenlandes , , and the Ethiopic book first edited by Trump Abh. Retrieved 27 December Retrieved Penguin Books Limited. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, Lord, we, too, are destined to die.
Christ's life taught us how to live and His death redeemed us and gave us eternal life. Swaddle us in Your Love and Grace so that we may live for You and die peacefully and faithfully in Your service. Only after the Gospel was proclaimed around the world did the term "stable" evoke an image of the Infant Christ. Our perception changed because God entered the picture. In our lives, we encounter countless familiar people, situations, and objects. Our perception of them is often stereotyped. Suppose we allowed God to enter the picture. How would our perception change? Lord, open my spiritual eyes to see Your Presence in every person and situation in my life.
Help me to learn the lessons You wish to teach me through the objects I see and use. Your Presence, Lord, was in every stable ever built for You are everywhere. Grant me the grace to find Your Presence today in the ordinariness of my life. INN : When Joseph knocked at the inn of Bethlehem, seeking a room where Mary could give birth to Christ, he was told that the inn was full. So he was turned away. The inns were the hotels of former times. While they housed some long-term guests, most people stayed only for a short time.
Like most large hotels, inns provided both room and food, for pay, of course. Jesus wants to come and dwell in our hearts. He wants to make our hearts His home. But if our hearts are full of transitory goals and activities, we can fit Jesus in sometimes, when other cares subside, but we don't have room or time to host Him continuously.
A Rule of Life, like that of the Confraternity of Penitents, creates permanent space for Christ in our hearts and in our lives. A Rule of Life helps to make our souls homes for Christ instead of temporary residences. Lord, do I entertain you in my soul always or do I let other occupations and things push You out? Grant me the desire to make my soul Your permanent abode, and then give me the grace and the means to make that happen. HOLLY : Holly is an extremely hardy shrub that can be grown in all fifty states of the United States, making it one of the few plants that can withstand temperatures from degrees F to - 40 degrees F.
The four hundred species of holly, ranging from dwarf holly plants six inches high to huge holly trees seventy feet tall, are native to all the continents except Antarctica and Australia. Holly plants are noted for their attractive red berries and glossy, sharp-toothed green leaves which remain on the plant year round.
The holly bush represents immorality, a trait that God has given to each human being. We are all destined to live forever, either with the Lord or separated from Him. The sharp-toothed edge of the holly leaf reminds Christians of the crown of thorns with which the soldiers mocked Our Lord during His Passion.
They laughingly hailed Him as king, never realizing that He is, indeed, King of the universe. As a Christmas symbol, the red holly berry represents Christ's blood, shed for all people including those who reject Him. Lord, You have destined me to live forever in eternity with You. But what a price You paid for my salvation, even to being mocked, beaten, and crucified.
Your Blood was the price of my eternal life. Lord, may I be forever grateful. They focus on the giving and receiving of gifts instead of on our greatest Gift Jesus Who gave Himself to us at Christmas. The wise men who brought their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor the infant King in Bethlehem's manger have inspired the concept of gift giving at Christmas.
God also gives us the gifts of the Holy Spirit which help us to follow God's direction in our lives. Cranberry sauce is part of many Christmas meals. At the turn of the last century, good children would receive their only orange of the year as a Christmas gift. As a Christmas symbol, fruit recalls the twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit.
These Fruits result from the activity of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Lord, grow in me the Fruits of the Holy Spirit so that I may attain to the holiness to which You have called me. It lives off the tree to which it attaches itself and, without that tree, it would die. Mistletoe is a Christmas symbol of our love which derives from and exists only because God loves us. God, Who is Love, created us in love and caused us to be able to love. Christians are humbled before these words of St.
John the Evangelist: "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him" 1 Jn. Just as mistletoe may not acknowledge the tree which sustains it, so people may not acknowledge that the love of God sustains them. But if mistletoe were taken from the tree and any person removed from God's love, both would die. Lord, You are my God and my Divine Lover. Increase in me my love for You and for my neighbor.
Perfect my love and help me to love unselfishly as You love me. That is, they lose their leaves in the fall, remain dead-looking all winter, and begin to sprout new growth in the spring. Evergreens are, broadly speaking, any type of plant that retains its green leaves or needles all year round. As Christian Christmas symbols, evergreens symbolize perseverance and resiliency to adversity. They remind us of Jesus' words, "The ones who persevere to the end shall be saved. Lord, give me an evergreen faith! May I love and trust You no matter what harshness is battering me. I will follow You in the pleasant, balmy times of my life and in the bitter ice storms as well.
Keep my faith alive! In the early 's, Saint Boniface, who converted the German people to Christianity, demolished the Oak of Thor, the mighty sacred tree worshipped by the Saxons. From its roots grew a fir tree which Boniface took as a sign of the Christian faith. In the 11th century, Paradise plays portrayed the tree of Paradise, decorated with red apples. During the 15th century, the faithful began to erect trees in their homes on December 24, the feast day of Adam and Eve. About the year , Martin Luther, inspired by a snow covered fir tree, brought a small tree indoors and decorated it with candles in honor of Christ's birth.
By the 18th century, the custom of decorating a Christmas tree was well established in France, Germany, and Austria. Thus, the Christmas tree represents the original Tree of Paradise, the burning bush which spoke to Moses, the branch of Jesse from which Jesus was born, the life-giving tree of the cross of Christ, and the tree which St. John the Apostle saw in the Book of Revelations whose leaves have medicine for the people and which yields fruit each month for the healing of the nations. Because it is green year-round, the evergreen tree represents hope.
Its needles and its narrow crest point upward, turning our thoughts to heaven. Because the tree is cut down and then erected again, it is a symbol of Christ's resurrection. Lord, may I see Christmas trees as a sign of hope and as reminders of the many trees that figure in salvation history.
I thank You, Lord, for turning the tree of Adam and Eve's sin into the tree of life through the cross of Christ. Because of the tree on which Christ died, You have given us the promise of eternal life. We praise you forever. A legend tells of a poor, faithful family who wished to decorate a Christmas tree in honor of the Christ Child but who had no money for decorations. In the night, spiders came and spun webs across the tree.
Then the Christ Child, honoring the family's faith, turned the threads into silver. When we want to give our all to Christ, but we think that we have nothing of value to give, God gives value to our offerings. God does not measure worth by worldly standards but by spiritual ones. Give Christ your all and He will consider it more precious than gold. Lord, I am nobody in the world's eyes. But I give myself to You to do whatever You wish with me.
Accept my humble gift for I give it in love. On Christmas Day, a white for the purity of Christ candle is lit in the center of the wreath. Before electricity, people used candles to light their homes and to decorate their Christmas trees. Today electric lights have replaced candles. Candles and Christmas lights represent Christ, the Light of the World. No follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness; no, he shall possess the light of life" John Candles and Christmas lights also remind us that we are to be light to others, to show them the way to Christ. Lord, be my Light in the darkness and help me to be a light to others, to show them the way to you.
When all seems hopeless, help me to remember that the darkness cannot overcome Your Light. You are the eternal Brilliance of God.
May Your Light be my hope, my God. God gave these instructions to Moses: The robe of the ephod you shall make entirely of violet material. It shall have an opening for the head in the center, and around this opening there shall be a selvage, woven as at the opening of a shirt, to keep it from being torn. All around the hem at the bottom you shall make pomegranates, woven of violet, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen twined, with gold bells between them; first a gold bell, then a pomegranate, and thus alternating all around the hem of the robe. Aaron shall wear it when ministering, that its tinkling may be heard as he enters and leaves the LORD'S presence in the sanctuary; else he will die.
Exodus Christmas bells not only symbolize the joy of Christmas; they also remind us that Christ is the High Priest. Those priests were many because they were prevented by death from remaining in office, but he [Jesus], because he remains forever, has a priesthood that does not pass away. Therefore, he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them. It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens. He has no need, as did the high priests, to offer sacrifice day after day, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did that once for all when he offered himself.
Hebrews 7: Only Your great mercy and justice could conceive of such a gift to us. Let our lives joyfully proclaim that Jesus is Priest, Prophet, and King! The red stripe symbolizes Christ's sacrifice and the white background His purity. The candy cane reminds us of Isaiah's prophecy of the suffering servant who was led like a lamb to the slaughter Isaiah and by his stripes you were healed Isaiah Candy canes have a peppermint flavor, reminiscent of hyssop which had medicinal purposes. The Psalmist prayed, Lord, cleanse me with hyssop that I may be clean Psalm Jesus came to heal our ills and to purge us of sin.
The peppermint flavor reminds us that our healing came at the price of Christ's life. When Jesus was crucified, a bystander stuck a wine-filled sponge on a branch of hyssop to give Jesus a drink. After tasting the wine, Jesus said, "Now it is finished," and died cf. The candy cane is meant to be broken and shared, just as Jesus' Body is broken and shared at every Eucharist.
Lord, you came to shepherd us rightly, to live for us purely, and to die for us lovingly. Cleanse me with hyssop that I may be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, You will not spurn cf. Psalm Gingerbread people remind us of God's creation of Adam in the Garden of Eden, and God's creation of each of us. Spices, reminiscent of those mentioned in the Old Testament, make the gingerbread man the color of earth Adam was created from the dust of the earth.
Like us, gingerbread people are not immortal. They are destined to be eaten and thus to unite with their creators. God does not eat us rather we consume His Body and Blood in the Eucharist , but our mortal bodies, like that of the gingerbread man's, will not live forever. God created us for eternal union with Him after we die. Gingerbread people remind us to look beyond ourselves to our Creator with whom we will one day be united. Lord, often I hurry through life with little thought of You. Yet I exist because You created me. And I will exist forever either with You or away from You. You have made me for union with Yourself.
Bring my life into union with that goal. Saint Nicholas was known for taking to heart Jesus' words about almsgiving. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6: Saint Nicholas was very generous to the poor, but most often anonymously. The most famous story concerns three young women whose destitute father was going to force them into prostitution in order to survive. To prevent this heinous crime, Nicholas, on three different nights, anonymously went to their father's house and threw a bag of gold though an open window.
The bishop's miter and fur trimmed red winter garments were corrupted into Santa's outfit, while Saint Nicholas's generosity was transferred to the "jolly old man" who delivers gifts anonymously on Christmas Eve. Lord, grant me the spirit of generosity that Saint Nicholas possessed. Help me to do good in secret, without any desire for recognition and repayment. May I trust in You for any reward.
The Portent of a Sinless, Virgin Mother of God
Sugar isn't found in Scripture and, for centuries, only the wealthy used it. The lower classes used honey or molasses as sweeteners. References to honey are found frequently in Scripture. God promised Abraham that he would bring his people to a "land of milk and honey," that is a rich and fertile homeland. The manna in the desert tasted "like wafers made with honey," a foretaste of the Eucharist which, although not sweetened with honey, is sweet to us spiritually because it is the Body of Christ.
Isaiah prophesied concerning the Messiah, "the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall be living on curds and honey by the time he learns to reject the bad and choose the good. Curds and honey also refer to the "land of milk and honey" promised to Abraham. John the Baptist, who prepared Israel for the coming of Christ, lived on "locusts and wild honey. The sweets we consume at Christmas remind us of the sweetness of God's Presence, come into the world on Christmas.
Sweet Jesus, is there anything sweeter than you? The memory of you is more delightful than anything else. Your name is joy; it is the true gate of our salvation. What else are you, Jesus, if not our Savior? Be our Redeemer. Give us the virtues of hope and love, just as you have given us faith, our primary joy. May we live and die in them so we can attain you.
With your help and through the prayers of your Mother, you who are blessed throughout the ages. The Yule log goes back to pagan religions. Yule, which means sun or light, was a festival in honor of the sun god. The 25th of December was the birthday of the Roman god Mithras, who was known as the unconquered sun.
Christians can see how the Lord used this symbol to prepare the pagans for Christ, the son of God, the eternal Light, the God of all gods. The Yule log is reminiscent of Christ's cross, made of wood. As the burning log gives light as it "dies," so the death of Christ on the cross brought our world from the darkness of sin into the light of faith. As the burning of the log was thought to bring health, fruitfulness, and prosperity and to ward off evil spirits, so Christ's sacrificial death brought to those who believe in Him the fruits of the Holy Spirit, health of soul, and prosperity in their spiritual life.
Through His death, Christ conquered all evil spirits for all time. Burning the Yule log for twelve days prepared the pagans to recall the twelve tribes of Israel, which preceded Christ, and the twelve apostles whom Our Lord sent to spread the fire of the Holy Spirit to light up all the world. Lord, You do all things so well. In this pagan symbol, You foreshadowed the sacrifice of Your Son. WREATH : Wreaths combine several Christmas symbols including holly, fruit, mistletoe, evergreens, tinsel, and so on, all of which retain their symbolism on the wreath.
Jordan Peterson on Adam and Eve - Public Discourse
The word wreath comes from an old English word, meaning to writhe or twist. Greens twisted into a circle made "crowns" for kings, military leaders, and athletes. Because wreaths, due to their circular shape, symbolize eternity, the circle of life, and endless hope, they began to be used at Christmas and hung. Because a wreath has neither beginning nor end, but is a continuous circle, it symbolized God Himself. Lord, You are my God, uncreated and eternal Love. Draw me into the circle of Love that flows throughout the Trinity. May I find eternal life in you. In addition, the Advent wreath utilizes the symbolic colors purple and pink, the color of the priest's Advent vestments.
In an Advent Wreath, three purple candles to signify penance, prayer, and preparation for Christmas and one pink candle to symbolize rejoicing are spaced equidistantly around the wreath. Each candle represents years which, taken together, equal the traditional sense of years from Adam to the birth of Christ. Recently the faithful have adopted the custom of removing the colored candles on Christmas and replacing them with a white candle in the center of the wreath.
The white candle symbolizes the birth of Christ, the Light of the World and the Center of all creation. Lord, all creation awaited Your coming among us. Now we await Your second coming. Our waiting grows patience in us, Lord. May that virtue flourish in my soul this Advent and always. HAM : The wild boar, which can normally reach lbs.
Hunting boar was a dangerous sport in medieval times because a boar was powerful, unpredictable, and aggressive. With its massive weight, sharp hooves, short pointed tusks, and quick movements, a boar could easily attack and kill a man. Christians saw in the boar a symbol of satan who, in the spiritual realm, could unpredictably and aggressively attack and even spiritually kill the soul.
In some artistic renditions of satan, this enemy of God is portrayed as resembling a boar sharp hoofed feet, tusks or fangs, hairy, large. Therefore, Christians easily adapted the Scandinavian custom of slaughtering a pig at Yule time to honor the god Freyr who ruled over the sun, rain, and produce of the fields. By carrying into their Christmas feasts a boar's head on a platter, Christians were proclaiming that Jesus has the ultimate victory over satan, symbolized by the boar. The Christmas ham is an adaptation of this custom. Lord, You have the victory! When I am drawn toward evil or when evil comes to me through circumstances or other people, help me to remember that You have the victory When I feel discouraged or my faith falters, You have the victory!
When the end of my life comes and satan accuses me before You, I will put my trust in You, my Lord, for You have the victory! Thank You, Lord, for coming into our world and for defeating the enemy. God be praised!
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You have the victory! The Jewish people offered cakes made with oil to the Lord. The Israelites took their unleavened loaves with them when they fled Egypt. They recalled this event yearly in the feast of Unleavened Bread. The manna in the desert tasted like wafers made with honey. Elijah performed a miracle in which a widow's flour did not run out during a time of famine. When David brought the Ark of God back to Jerusalem, he gave each person in Israel a loaf of bread, a cut of meat, and a raisin cake.
Jesus multiplied loaves twice in Scripture and came as the Bread of Life. He comes to us in every Mass under the form of Eucharistic bread and wine. This rich history is present to us with every taste of Christmas pastries. Lord, You are the Bread of Life. You sustain us and grant us spiritual health. May we partake of You and live in You. In this tradition, the three women who needed dowries in order to be kept from a life of prostitution had hung their stockings by the fireplace to dry.
When the saint came by to help them, the money that he threw into their house fortuitously landed in the stockings. The tradition of naughty children receiving a lump of coal in their stockings comes from Italy. Because stockings cover our feet, they symbolize our life's journey. If our journey takes us closer to God, He rewards us with the joys and happiness of eternal life. But if we constantly turn from Him, we will do so in eternity as well. In popular imagination, satan stokes the fires of hell with coal.
Hence, coal in the stocking of naughty children is a somber reminder of damnation while the gifts good children receive foreshadow their eternal reward. Lord, all my life is a journey either toward union with You or away from it. What is my goal, my God? Direct my steps along the path You wish me to follow so that, at my journey's end, I find myself in Your eternal embrace.
Nicholas, was popular in Scandinavia, reindeer became associated with him. In Scandinavian countries, reindeer are domesticated and used for meat as well as for work. Their pulling a sleigh would be a familiar sight. Reindeer provide an interesting example of how the Holy Spirit uses secular symbols to prepare people to accept the Divine. Reindeer recall this verse from the Psalms: "As a doe pants for running streams, so my soul is thirsting for You, my God" Psalm Isaiah uttered this prophecy about the Messiah: "Then will the lame leap like a stag" Isaiah The lover in the Song of Songs sings, "Hark!
My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag" Song of Songs So we long for God Who can cure our spiritual and physical ills, making our souls leap with joy and sometimes our bodies as well. Santa makes Rudolph, whom the other deer reject, the leader of the herd. His light leads them through the dark night so that gifts can be given to good children.
Rudolph is a secular way to prepare children for Christ, the light of the world, Who was rejected by His people yet Whom God placed above us all. Lord, You are amazing in Your greatness. Your Spirit inspired our simple minds to connect reindeer with a secular celebration of Christmas, and yet we had no idea that we were selecting symbols that draw us back to You. All things point to You, Lord, for You are Creator of all things. May I see Your Hand everywhere.
The word "sleigh" is a corruption of the word "sledge. From Biblical times through modern ones, oxen or donkeys pull sledges across grain which is scattered on a threshing floor. The heavy wooden sledge is set with flints or iron teeth which rip the chaff or stalks from the grain. A winnower works along with the thresher, using a several-pronged pitchfork to toss the grain and chaff upward.
The wind carries the light chaff away from the threshing floor while the heavier grain falls to the floor. The prophet Isaiah predicts the future glory of Israel, following the birth of the Messiah, in these words: "Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you insect Israel! Now, I will make of you a threshing-sledge, sharp, new, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them.
Only by God could such greatness be achieved. Christians see this prophecy as being fulfilled in Christ, born in a stable to lowly parents, who has come to be the judge and savior of the world, to crush the spiritual mountains of sin and pride and to redeem us. John the Baptist clarifies this connection in his preaching at the Jordan: "I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. May we be found to be wheat when our Lord comes! Lord, when I see a Christmas sleigh, help me to look beyond it to the meaning it had in the time of Christ. May Your threshing of my life yield grain suitable for eternal life. There the winter solstice on December 21 brings the shortest day of the year, after which the hours of daylight slowly begin to lengthen.
Snow and ice symbolize hardness of heart and coldness toward God and others. As the sun, rising higher in the sky each day after the winter solstice, will eventually melt the ice and snow, so will the Son of God thaw our hard hearts if we turn to Him. Lord, give me the courage to seek out the hard, cold places in my spirit and to expose them over to the fire of Your Love. When people come indoors from a walk in the snow, they want to warm themselves and sitting by the fireplace was the traditional way to do that.
Fire in Scripture symbolizes good sometimes and sometimes punishment. Fire reminds us the flaming, fiery sword that barred Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Fire and brimstone rained from heaven to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Fire reminds us of the burning bush where God, under the appearance of fire, spoke to Moses and commissioned him to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptians. The Israelites burned their offerings on the temple altar as gifts to God. God sent fire from heaven to consume the offering of Elijah, to the confusion of the prophets of Baal.
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The prophet Elisha was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire. Jesus used the rubbish heap fires of Gehenna to illustrate the utter eternal but continual destruction of those who refuse to believe in God. The Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles in tongues of fire on Pentecost. In the Book of Revelation, the Son of God Who stood before John appeared to be aflame with a spiritual fire, but later satan and all his cohorts were thrown forever into a lake of eternal fire. Lord, as I warm myself by a fireplace this Christmas, may You bring to mind these images of fire that leads, comforts, and instructs and fire that destroys.
Your Love is consuming fire. You want all of me for Yourself. Lord, grant me the grace to give myself to You so that my soul will burn with love and every trace of sin be consumed in me. Miriam composed and sang a hymn of Thanksgiving when God delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians. David sang and danced before the Ark of the Lord when he was accompanying back to Jerusalem after having rescued it from the Philistines.
He composed the Psalms, all of which are to be sung. Many of the Psalms mention times when the Jewish people sang, some of which are: bringing in the harvest, going up to the temple, success over one's enemies. Jesus mentioned funeral songs in one of His exhortations. People use song as an expression of highest emotion. How fitting that we sing about the birth of Christ!
Lord, whether or not I have a good singing voice or a poor one, help me to "make a joyful noise unto the Lord" at this holy time of year! Praise You, Lord, for You have been born among us! NUTS : Nuts are a traditional Christmas food, not only because they ripen in fall, before the dead of winter, and can be kept for months if stored properly, but also because they are symbols of repentance.
Saint Anthony of Padua brought out this connection very well. Nuts have three parts to them, Anthony said, the bitter skin which encased the nut on the tree, the leathery hull, and the nut meat. The bitter skin splits on the tree when the nut is ripe and the ripened nut falls to earth. Anthony likened the bitter skin to the bitterness of penance which is always bitter to begin.
However, this bitterness will release the sinner to seek forgiveness. The hard shell of the nut represents perseverance, because penance, if sincere, requires this virtue. In the sweet kernel, we rejoice in the hope of forgiveness At the place of change, at the place of penance, the Lord appears. Lord, help me to seek You through a life of penance conversion. Help me to begin to turn to you, despite the difficulties, and give me perseverance I need to continually turn to Your Will. Grant me the joy of forgiveness as I confess my sins during through the sacrament of Reconciliation. Wrapping gifts in paper began about A.
Wrapping paper is considerably less valuable than the gift which it covers. Wrapping paper reminds us that God hid His infinite worth under the guise of our finite humanity. Lord, God, I praise You for coming to earth. He is the greatest Christmas gift of all time. They show us that all people are to be bound together in brotherhood and peace.
Ribbons were part of the priestly vestments which God revealed to Moses. Thus they remind us that Jesus is the new High Priest. When two Jewish spies came to Jericho to reconnoiter the city, Rahab hid them in her house. When they were leaving, they gave her a scarlet cord or ribbon and asked her to tie it in her window so that the Israelites would spare her house when they razed the city. This Rahab did and she and her household were spared see Joshua 2.
The scarlet ribbon is a symbol of Christ's sacrifice of Himself which saved us from eternal damnation. Lord, as I wrap and unwrap gifts this Christmas, let me remember that You have bound us all together in love. We are all brothers and sisters in You. May You be forever praised! In , the first director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum commissioned an artist to create the first professional Christmas card so that he could send greetings to his friends. Christmas cards can serve as miniature Gospel tracts, reminding both sender and receiver that Christ was born at Christmas.
Many beautiful, religious cards exist that share the true meaning of the Christmas season. Christmas cards also remind us that we, too, ought to be "walking and talking" messages that testify to Christ's love. Lord, help me to share the message of Christmas through the cards I send. May all that I do show Your love for me. Lord, how can we cross You out of Christmas when the holiday exists because of Your birth? Help us to put You into the center of our celebrations, on Christmas and every day of the year. Children have been making snowmen ever since time began.
Just as snowmen are images of real people, so those whose spirits are frozen against the love of God are images of who they could be. As snowmen melt in the warmth of the sun and the spring, so our cold hearts will melt when we understand the Son's love and sacrifice for us. Lord, may I melt at the touch of Your Love. From my frozen spirit bring forth streams of water as my tears of repentance. Let me turn back to You, my God, so that I can become all You created me to be. Red reminds us of the blood of Christ, shed for our sins on Calvary, and green is the color of grass and vegetation, hence, of life.
Therefore, red and green remind us of suffering and sacrifice and of the life that God has given us and that comes to us eternally through the sufferings of Christ. Then You died on Good Friday and rose at Easter. In Your life, both death and life, suffering and growth, worked together to give me life. Grant me the grace to surrender my life to You so that all my suffering and pain may result in spiritual growth, to Your glory, forever. They appear several times in Scripture and continue to protect us today as each person has his or her own guardian angel.
The angel Gabriel announced the birth of Christ and also told St. Angels appeared to the shepherds when Christ was born, singing and praising God and instructing the shepherds to hurry to Bethlehem to see the newborn King. Angels symbolize God's presence, and remind us of obedience to Him and praise of Him.
Lord, with the angels I sing Your praise! May I be obedient to You as they are and may I bring Your message to a world that does not know how empty it is without knowledge of You. I thank You for my guardian angel and ask that I may cooperate with the graces that You give to me through my own special protector. Thank You, Lord, for all Your blessings. The Gift of The Magi by O. Henry One dollar and eighty-seven cents.
That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas. There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.
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