Category Archives: Bethlehem

Our Greatest Christmas Gift: God’s Earthly Trinity; A Young Man, His Teenage Wife and a Newborn Baby—

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

If it were two thousand years ago and you lived in Nazareth you might notice a young man packing items on a donkey in preparation for a trip. Early the next morning you see this fellow, with his pregnant teenage wife sitting on the back of the burro, heading down the road. They are in compliance with the law of the day. They are on their way to Bethlehem, the town of their ancestor’s birth, for the census.
We know so little about the lives of Joseph and Mary, yet they are THE integral part of the Salvation story.  Mary’s acceptance of a pregnancy that might have resulted in her being stoned to death as an adulteress was an act of monumental humility. Joseph, a good man and a faithful Jew true to the law, accepted a pregnant woman as his wife, another act of extreme humility. (Imagine how much he must have loved this young woman)

Holy Family  & First Christmas  from Pineterest

To complete this humble family was none other than God Himself. The Creator of all that isbecame like one of His creations. He could have come in a majestic way, surrounded by armies and servants and glitter and pomp. He chose to come to us in the womb of his mom, just like all of us. He allowed Himself to be born among the animals in a cave. As He began His earthly life His body was wrapped in cloth and then placed on straw. Why would He do it this way?

He did it to show us…show us Goodness, show us Love and show us how to give those things from within ourselves.  Foremost, He did it to save us, save us from ourselves and Satan’s favorite tool, Pride, which had brought down Adam and Eve. The Holy Family was, and still is, the complete and perfect embodiment of Humility. It remains so to this very day. Of course, the antidote to Pride is Humility. 
Isn’t God amazing in the way He does things? This is the story of our Salvation and the rebirth of Hope. This Salvation became available to all people for all time and its success was entrusted to a couple of have-not young people whose humility and love of God enabled them to conquer the seemingly impossible.
Guided by the Holy Spirit they united in marriage. Then, absorbed by each other’s love they took on the world. They traveled to Bethlehem while Mary was full term, a three to five day journey on the back of a donkey. Joseph walked guiding the donkey. Mary gave birth in a cave surrounded by smelly animals and filth and they watched and marveled as poor shepherds and rich kings worshipped their child side by side.
They managed to escape the soldiers of King Herod, who were trying to kill their newborn Son.  Imagine the fear in Joseph as he wondered how he could protect his little family from the forces of evil. And, lest we forget, he also got them safely to Egypt, about three hundred miles away. He must have been something. We know the rest of the story.
If you take a moment to ponder all that happened and how it happened and why it happened, it will leave you breathless. And then we remember it was all done for all of us. There was nothing done for themselves, not one thing. We need to get back to what “Family” is and the Holy Family is the model to build on.
We must never forget that within that family it was the husband and father who protected his wife and Son from the evils of the world. The Son humbled Himself and gave his life for us all.  And the Mom, our Mom too, the most humble of all women ever, stands ever vigilant and  ready to crush the head of the evil serpent who might harm any of her children. In so doing she is protecting all of us for all eternity. She is our protection against all wickedness. When we ask for her protection we cover ourselves with an impenetrable shield.
Fittingly, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday following Christmas. There are millions of folks who never pay an iota of attention to this family. Maybe it is time that they should for this is the family that “set the bar” for all families for all time.
The Salvation story comprises the greatest acts of human Love, Goodness and Humility ever. Mary, Joseph and their boy, Jesus, encompassed by an unconditional love for God and each other, offers that love to all of us.  God’s earthly Trinity has shown us the way.
How can anyone NOT Love Christmas?  

                                       ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

Two Teenagers, A Child and Christmas–a Perfect Mix

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


By Larry Peterson
If it were two thousand years ago and you lived in Nazareth you might notice a young man packing items on a donkey in preparation for a trip. Early the next morning you see this fellow, with his pregnant teenage wife sitting on the back of the burro, heading down the road. They are in compliance with the law of the day. They are embarking on a three or four day journey to Bethlehem, the town of their ancestors’ birth, for the census.
We know so little about the lives of Joseph and Mary, yet they are THE integral part of the Salvation story.  Mary’s acceptance of a pregnancy that might have resulted in her being stoned to death as an adulteress was an act of monumental humility. Joseph, a good man and a faithful Jew true to the law, accepted a pregnant woman as his wife, another act of extreme humility.
To complete this humble family was none other than God Himself. The Creator of all  there is became like one of His creations. He could have come in a majestic way, surrounded by armies and servants and glitter and pomp. He chose to come to us in the womb of his mom, just like all of us. He allowed Himself to be born among the animals in a cave. As He began His earthly life His body was wrapped in cloth and then placed on straw. 


Why would He do this? He did it to show us Goodness, show us Love and show us how to do it.  Finally He did it to save us, save us from ourselves and Satan’s favorite tool, Pride, which had brought down Adam and Eve. The Holy Family was and still is, the complete and perfect embodiment of Humility. It remains so to this very day. Of course, the antidote to Pride is Humility. 
Isn’t God amazing in the way He does things? This is the story of our Salvation and the rebirth of Hope. This Salvation became available to all people for all time and its success was entrusted to a couple of have-not teens whose humility and love of God enabled them to conquer the seemingly impossible. They married against incredible odds and traveled to Bethlehem while Mary was full term. Joseph walked guiding the donkey, protecting his young wife the entire time. Mary gave birth in a cave surrounded by smelly animals and filth and then they managed to escape the soldiers of King Herod who were trying to kill their newborn Son. Lest we forget, they somehow made it to Egypt, about three hundred miles away. We know the rest of the story.
We must never forget that within that family it was the husband and father who protected his wife and Son from the evils of the world. The Son humbled Himself and gave his life for us all.  And the Mom, our Mom too, the most humble woman ever created, stands ever vigilant ready to crush the head of the evil serpent who might harm any of her children. In so doing she is protecting all of her “children” (which includes you and I) for all eternity. She is our protection against all wickedness. Humility conquers pride. Just look to the Holy Family.

If you take a moment to truly ponder all that happened and how it happened and why it happened, it might leave you breathless. And then we remember it was all done for all of us. There was nothing done for themselves, not one thing. We need to get back to “Family” and the Holy Family is the model to build on. 
The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday following Christmas. If you are among the millions of folks who never pay an iota of attention to this family, maybe you should. Why? Because this is the family that “set the bar” for all families. Comprised of two teenagers, Mary and Joseph and their boy, Jesus, their unconditional love for God and each other cannot be surpassed.  The Salvation story comprises the greatest acts of combined Love and Humility ever.
                                 ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved

The Amazing Story of the Nativity Stones

review by Larry Peterson

Nativity Stone set in Gold Cross

To the right you see a picture of a gold filled cross and in the center of the cross you will notice a white stone.  Let me share with you about that stone.  It comes from the Manger Room of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  Yes, the stone is from the exact spot in the manger where Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God,  was born on the First Christmas over 2000 years ago.  This is true and has been documented and confirmed by the Vatican.

Back in 1963 philanthropist and archaeologist, Stanley Slotkin, was visiting the Cave of the Nativity and noticed a portion of the inside wall being removed.  His host, the mayor of Bethlehem, explained to him that the site was being expanded to make another exit so as to accommodate the thousands of visitors that came every year.  Slotkin asked for permission to have the excavated stones shipped to him in America and they were.  He began making crosses, each holding a precious Nativity Stone. These crosses he gave away to many charities and to the terminally ill providing comfort and peace to many while reinforcing their faith in Jesus.

It is important to remember that these stones are from the EXACT spot where Jesus was born.  The Church of the Nativity is the oldest Christian Church in the world.  Early Christians worshipped at this exact site soon after Christ’s death and resurrection.  In 325 AD, the Emperor Constantine officially recognized this site as the true birthplace of Christ.  Imagine having an actual Nativity Stone that was there when Our Blessed Mother gave birth to our Saviour while St. Joseph stood by caring for and protecting them.

Recently, at his request, Slotkin’s family made Nativity Stones available for a wider audience.  Jewelry was created that contained Nativity Stones. This jewelry is now available to everyone while supplies last.  Each cross comes in a case with  its own numbered Certification of Authenticity.  It makes a magnificent gift and will become a treasured keepsake to all who are able to acquire one.  For further information go to the link below. For visiting this blog you are eligible to use coupon code  Honored15  when ordering.  Just type it in the code box at checkout.

 http://www.nativitystonescollection.com/   
 Origins of the Nativity Stones                                                                                                                                  

Repost: New Year's Day & The Blessed Virgin Mary

by Larry Peterson

This is a redux of last years New Year’s blog  that won the “Frankie” Award  ( named after St. Francis de Sales) as the best catholic spirituality blog of  2013.

JANUARY 1, 2013  (and 2014)

New Year’s Day & The Blessed Virgin Mary

A little about Catholics (myself included)  and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

We Catholics have adorned our Blessed Mother with many titles (47 different ones I believe) and she is the greatest of all saints. We believe that she has been spared from original sin and was taken into heaven body and soul never having to die in this world. But, before she left here she lived here, as a woman, a mom and a housewife.  I think we do not pay enough attention to the earthly life of our spiritual Mom. January 1st of each year we Catholics honor her  with a day we call the Solemnity of Mary; the Mother of God. In the catholic world today is a Holy day of Obligation and, just like on Sundays, going to mass is required. This woman is worthy of and deserves this special day of honor..
Remember that Mary  had already survived the possibility of execution by stoning  because she was pregnant prior to her marriage. You can’t tell me that she did not think about the potential consequences of her pregnancy. (Even her Son, the God Man, broke into a sweat in the Garden of Eden thinking about what was coming. Why wouldn’t  Mary be worried?) She knew she was pregnant, she knew this was an extreme violation of Jewish law and she knew the penalty.  Her life was out of her hands and her fate thrust into  the hands of another, a man named Joseph, her betrothed. Fortunately, he was the best fiancé ever, married her, took her in and accepted her child as his.
Then, at full term in her pregnancy,  she has to travel with her husband over 80 miles on a donkey to be counted in a census.  She survives the four or five day journey (no rest-rooms between Nazareth and Bethlehem)and the countless contractions she must have had along the way to discover that her frantic husband cannot find a place for them to stay.  She winds up giving  birth in a stable with smelly animals,  lots of straw, no running water and who knows how clean those swaddling clothes were. She was probably all of 14 years old.
Let’s not forget that after  awhile word comes to them that Herod wants to kill their baby. Hey, all you moms and dads, how would you like to know the head of the government has authorized your child’s execution? Can you imagine? So, this poor young mom  is forced to make a 300+ mile journey to Egypt, hiding her child as best she can, while  all the time hoping her carpenter husband can elude the soldiers searching for them. Talk about  anxiety. Talk about fear. Talk about having Faith and praying like you never prayed before.
It probably was a year or two before the family made it back to Nazareth. Here they probably lived in a  typical baked clay and straw brick house. Each day Mary would have to sweep the beaten clay floor, go to the cistern for water, travel outside the town walls for daily necessities such as spices and grain which she would have to grind  into flour to bake fresh bread (no preservatives in those days) . Of course, there was the laundry.  Trust me, there were no laundromats and there were no detergents. There were also no diapers or Pampers or band-aids or cough syrups or baby powder or microwave chicken nuggets or McDonald
‘s either.  Her husband would be in his shop doing his carpentry chores and her boy, Jesus, would be with His dad or maybe helping His mom. And life would go on, day after day after day. The years go by and  she is witness to  his horrendous execution. No mom should ever have to witness her child being butchered. She was there for His first breath and His very last.


In conclusion, He came here for us and she gave birth to Him for us. She wiped His runny nose, changed His dirty diaper and watched Him grow up and be killed for us. That is why we call her MOM too. We believe that she is still watching out for us, her other kids. Ultimately, this  transposes into the Greatest Story Ever Told. Jesus was the leading Man and Mary, the leading woman . You have to LOVE this story and its two main characters, from Beginning to Never-Ending.

To St. Joseph; The Best Husband & Dad EVER–Merry Christmas

I just felt compelled to write a few words about a simple man, a man of incredible faith, unyielding loyalty, and a heart so filled with love for his wife and child it might have exploded if that were possible. I am referring to Joseph (Yosef in Hebrew) the husband of Mary and the earthly father of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We all know him as St. Joseph.

I am not going into any theology here. Nothing about the Pauline Epistles or the Gospels of Mark and Luke or the apocryphal works that have varied “opinions” about the man and his time. I just want to look at Joesph as a husband and a father and try, just a little bit, to get into his shoes (sandals).

First of all, Joseph was a “righteous” Jew. This meant he followed the Law of Moses and did it to the best of his ability. He was a true man of faith. I do not care how old he was when he became betrothed to Mary. All I know is that “betrothal” under the Jewish law was like a pre-marriage. Sort of  like a post-engagement. There even  had to be a rabbi officiating. You did not walk away from a betrothal. No sirree, to get out of a betrothal you needed a divorce.

So what happens? Joseph and Mary become betrothed and Joseph finds out she is pregnant. This is not 2012 we are talking about, this is over 2000 years ago. Mosaic Law permitted the actual execution by stoning of the woman. What would I have done? What would you have done? Damn–I can’t imagine being confronted with that situation. So, I don’t know what I would have done. Not our man, Joseph. He loved this woman and married her anyway. I know, I know, he had the dream and everything. But haven’t you ever dreamed and I do suggest that, as a man during those times, being faced with the reality of what was going on, he could have ran away from that dream like an Olympic sprinter dashing toward the stadium exit instead of the finish line. Yet, he married her and they had a nice reception, they moved in together and about four months later it was time to travel to Bethlehem for the census.

So now I’m thinking of me and what would I do. I’m thinking; My wife is due any day.I have little money and I have to make an 80 mile trip over rugged and dusty terrain that will take maybe four to five days if,  I can do 20 miles a day. Heck, I don’t want to make the trip so how is she going to be able to deal with 20 miles a day for 4 days?  Okay, okay, there is no choice. Dang, I hope that donkey can take it. I probably would have tried to hook up with a caravan as I traveled assuming it would be safer in numbers. I do not know if Joseph actually did that. The bottom line is, he had to take his pregnant wife and  let her sit on the back of a donkey and travel 80 miles. Nice trip. I would probably hate myself for doing that.  Think about it, we can drive 20 miles in 20 minutes doing 60 mph and we still complain.

Anyway, he gets to Bethlehem and there is no place to stay. Not a lousy room anywhere, even in a dive. She is already in labor and he is probably freaking out a bit. If it was today at least he probably would have had an old Chevy or something that she could have laid down in. He winds up in a smelly stable with animals and straw and his son is born and it is a beautiful thing but I’ll bet he would have done anything to get his wife and son into a room, any room. And along comes Herod and his insane jealousy.

Joesph hears about King Herod wanting to kill his baby. Just imagine for a moment that the government had soldiers out looking for your child so they could kill it. I can’t imagine. In fact the maniac king has thousands of children killed figuring sooner or later he would kill the right one. MADNESS—-Why? EGO.

The trip to Bethlehem was a cake walk compared to the Egypt trip. But Joseph somehow manages to make it about 300 to 350 miles to Egypt with a wife and a newborn and remains there a few years. Then, when he knows it is safe, he goes to Nazareth and resumes his trade as a carpenter, teaching his Son the law and the trade. He passes away  before his Boy begins his public life. His Son is at his side as he breathes his last.

 I love this man. Thank you Lord for giving us St. Joseph, the best husband and dad ever. All of us should think of him this Christmas. He deserves it.  I’m done.