St. Luke’s telling of the Christmas story, which is read at Midnight Masses all over the Catholic world, commences by invoking the first-century’s most powerful man: “In those days Caesar Augustus published a decree ordering a census of the whole world.” Then the story continues by introducing a new King, one born in straw poverty, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a feeding trough. This is the poetry by which God enters into our world, not as a tyrant surrounded by powers of earthly violence but as a fragile baby surrounded by an army of heavenly angels set to usher him to the cross. Today’s episode of the Word on Fire Show discusses this subversive Christmas tale and encourages us to consider which king we choose to follow. The listener question asks about the relationship between mind, body, and spirit.

Topics Discussed

  • 0:17  – Introduction: What was Word on Fire doing in New York City?
  • 3:40 – What is the political backdrop of the Christmas story?
  • 5:42 – Who were Mary and Joseph of Nazareth?
  • 8:00 – What is the significance of Bethlehem?
  • 9:50 – How strange is it that God came in the form of a baby?
  • 12:33 – What is the significance of the manger?
  • 13:32 – How does The Lord of the Rings relate to the Christmas story?
  • 16:00 – Why is the birth of this baby good news for the shepherds?
  • 17:42 – What is the terrifying undertone signaled by the angels who appear above the manger?
  • 20:45 – How might Catholics get in the Christmas spirit?
  • 21:47 – Question from listener: What is the relationship between the body, mind, and spirit?

Bonus Resources

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4 comments on “WOF 054: The Subversive Baby King

  1. Richard Earls Dec 22, 2016

    I discovered from Ace Collin’s book on Christmas songs that the original and more biblical Charles Wesley song title ‘hark how all the welkin rings’ was changed without permission by the less scholarly George Whitefield to ‘hark the Herald angels sing’ in the 1730s. William Cummings added the melody in 1850s and immortalized this beautiful hymn. In alignment with your description of a terrifyingly beautiful army of angels, I’m in favor of asking publishers and parishes to restore the original title.

  2. Deacon Greg Jan 11, 2017

    Bp Barron focuses on the real in a way that I can resonate with.
    May his ministery continue to help us to proclaim the Kingdom
    Of the Lord.
    My prayers are with you and your team.
    God love you.

  3. Brandon, it is sad that you had to define for us what “Midnight Mass” means. We are not idiots, thank you.

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