Los Evangelios de la Infancia de Jesús
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Saint Matthew, as a first objective, demonstrates that Jesus is the Messiah. To that end he wishes te prove, by means of the genealogy, that He descends from David. The difficulty, which seems to be presented, that Jesus is not the son of Joseph according to the flesh, is resolved by Matthew narrating how God constituted Saint Joseph as the father of Jesus. Another proof of Jesus being the Messiah is that in Him are fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. Saint Matthew makes explicit note of this live times in the first two chapters. To demonstrate in what sense Jesus is the Messiah, the similarity between Jesus and the characters of the Old Testament, through whom God formed or saved his people, is brought out sharply in Matthew. Thus Jesus is presented as the new Jacob-Israel, as the new Moses. And, finally, the evangelist manifests the superiority of Jesus over all these lorerunners by presenting Him as the Son of God.
St. Luke, likewise, in order to show that Jesus is the awaited Messiah the Saviour, contrasts the Annunciation of the birth of our Lord, and other episodes of his Childhood, with the annunciation of the birth of the Baptist. John the Baptist is the Precursor announced by the prophets, Jesus in the Saviour. In his narration, Luke is implicitly comparing John the Baptist with Sampson and Gideon, and Jesus with Moses and Isaac; but above all he presents Jesus as the Son of God. Continuing this parallelism Luke accentuates the figure of Mary as the new Eve, full of grace, humble, Virgin, daughter of Sion, Ark of the Covenant, Mother of God... In the other account of Our Lord's Childhood, Mary is also presented as co-redemtrix; and the salvation brought by Jesus Christ begins to be shown and to be recognized with joy in Jerusalem, in the Temple, from where it will be extended through Palestine and to the ends of the earth.
The theological and doctrinal aspect of the Gospel accounts of Our Lord's Childhood does not argue against historical truth, but presupposes it and is based on it, Matthew and Luke want to narrate true history but, having the catechetical end in view, they narrate the events bringing out their significance in the light of the Word of God of the Old Testament, at the same time making a selection of those which are more pertinent. To this end they use the normal procedure of their times: the midrash. But a midrash justifying history known through tradition; not a midrash which creates history.
One can ask the question as to whether the narrative tradition which Matthew and Luke received and later transmitted, is historically credible. The evangelists in themselves and being inspired by God, enjoy complete credibility. But also, given the antiquity of tradition, the sources of information which St. Luke depends on -those concerning the Blessed Virgin among others-, and the harmony with the rest of the New Testament which does not speak of the human father of Jesus but does speak of a mother, there is no serious reason for putting in doubt the historical veracity of the account. There can exist, of course incredulity in relation to the action of God.
The Virgin Birth of Jesus achieves its dimension in the context of Christological dogma. The fact that it does not appear expressly in the primitive apostolic preaching, transmitted in the Acts of the Apostles and in the letters of St. Paul, can mean that still at that time it was not proposed as pertaining to the nucleus of the Christian faith; but non that it was unknown. When the time came for the writing of the Gospels, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it was put: down in writing, it was made public as a point of faith for the whole Church. It came to forme part of the deposit of divine revelation transmitted through Sacred Scripture.
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