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Reflecting on the Birth of the Messiah

December 31, 2015
Salt and Light’s latest documentary, The Birth of the Messiah premiered on Christmas Eve and is now available for viewing online.
The film takes a closer look at the familiar Christmas story as it is told in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  Many are surprised to learn that Mark and John do not have infancy narratives (ie. Nativity stories), but start their gospels from a different theological point of view.
The Birth of the Messiah uses an historical-critical approach to the infancy narratives to try to understand what Matthew and Luke wanted to communicate about the identity of Jesus of Nazareth.  As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.” (CCC, 109)
Sebastian and Laurie
Such an understanding takes us beyond a literal or primitive reading of the text.  As the truth of the Evangelists’ account is gradually revealed, Christians come to a more profound understanding of the Messiah and the consequences of discipleship today.
(Photo left: New Testament scholar Sr. Laurie Brink, OP and writer/director Sebastian Gomes examine a verse in Matthew's infancy narrative during their interview for The Birth of the Messiah
With this in mind, we invite anyone who watches The Birth of the Messiah to reflect on these and other important questions during this Christmas season:
 Reflection/discussion questions for The Birth of the Messiah
1) Matthew and Luke’s accounts differ significantly in historic detail.  But they do agree on some fundamental points, that Jesus was the long-awaited and prophesied Messiah.  Where else to Matthew and Luke agree?  Why are these elements significant?  How do these elements shed light on the historic variances?
2) Matthew’s protagonist is Joseph: What do we learn about Joseph in Matthew’s account?  What can Joseph teach us about discipleship?
3) Luke’s protagonist is Mary: What do we learn about Mary in Luke’s account?  What can Mary teach us about discipleship?
4) What do Matthew and Luke’s accounts suggest about their communities in the latter part of the first century? (Both gospels were written in different regions in the 80’s AD)
5) How does an historical-critical analysis of our Scriptures affect the way the Church reads and understands the Scriptures?  Why is this so important today?
6) How do the infancy narratives challenge the Church today?
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