Outcasts where the first to know about Jesus

Isn’t it amazing, that first who heard and saw and knew all about Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, where outcasts?! Shepherds even today in the Jewish and Arabic world, still are kind of outcasts and lowest “class” people. How much more so 2000 years ago. And God did not tell the wise and the rich, but the poorest and illiterate “underdogs” first. In fact these where the first Saints of Jesus time. and we read:

"in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased!”

Now; how come, that after this overwhelming and most spectacular and great occurrence, not at once the whole world believed in God and in Jesus Christ?
Very simply because nobody believed this simple people. Who were they? Nobodies! They looked down on them as being a illiterate, filthy and stinking bunch. Who would believe them such unbelievable thing, like "…an Angel of the Lord appearing to them, and telling something of a Messiah being born - even in a manger instead of a palace and then this other thing of a lot of Angels saying such thing these shepherds anyhow wouldn’t understand.” Oh what a rubbish!

God knew why He revealed the greatest of His deeds to these “nobodies” as to God the poorest swaggie is same as a king and an outcast little shepherd same as a scribe!
This truly is very calming and satisfying to all of whom others think little, and those who humble themselves. They are great in the Eye of the Lord.

But if God had instead of revealing His might and power and glory to these castaways - to the ruling, rich and scribes, to kings and emperors, governors and glamorous, than the world at once had believed in God and those who saw didn’t have to believe, but simply grasp what’s presented – so to speak served on a silver tablet.
It would be unjust to all who had lived before. These poor however, where granted a blessing others didn’t deserve. Nobody listened to them though, but they knew the truth and saw God in this begotten baby Jesus.
Let’s do alike.


The first time I went to Christmas Mass, I heard a homily much like what you wrote and I never forgot it.

I heard a homily like that once too. Being a bit of a wiseacre, my though was:

Aren’t the magi honored ones of their society? (sometimes called kings). Weren’t they on the road to Bethlehem weeks before the actual birth? So wasn’t it a privilidged class that was told first? Just sayin’… :smiley:

In the eyes of first century Israel, the three Magi were even worse than the shepherds. The shepherds, at least, were Jews. The Magi were gentiles. Even the lowest Jew had more of a right to revelation than any gentile.

Hi, StTommyMore,

Actually, I would see this as more of the exception to the rule. Bruno’s idea that Christ appeared to us, not only as a helpless babe, but one born into incredible poverty - and He is to save us from our sins. The Humility that has been clearly spoken for all of us to “…make straight the path of the Lord…” is re-lived every year. And, I guess that the only groups that could appreciate this kind of poverty were the ones who were living it themselves - every day of their lives.

I think the OP has a great idea… and, I am just thinking that unless we too become as little children, we will most the boat.

God bless

My comment should be viewed as complimentary to the OP–The Lord first went to those not to be expected–the poor, the outcasts, and gentiles

Umm… I’m not so sure that ‘incredible’ poverty is accurate. A carpenter was a valued member of a village community, relied on to provide everything from furniture to ploughs.
I’ve seen Joseph decribed as a businessman, in fact.

He was no beggar, as he could always earn money with the skill he had. Think about it, items made from wood in that era were used by everyone from farmers to shopkeepers. Do you think that God would have entrusted His Son into a starving family? Lowly, yes, and thought of as beneath them by the ruling class - but incredible poverty?

Hi, Paperwight66,

Your point is well taken… :slight_smile: I was thinking in terms of the traditional Nativity Scene. But, this was undoubtedly an atypical living arrangement. They would have needed money to flee to Egypt (admittedly the Magi’s gifts were helpful), skills to live in Egypt awaiting the death of Herod, and then money to travel and settle down in Nazareth are re-establsih one’s self and Family.

I guess I got a bit carried away there…:smiley:

God bless

Yes. Because they were forced to flee.

Joseph could not conduct his normal business at that time. And yes, God did entrust his family so.

Certainly they were forced to flee but you are not taking account of the historical situation at that time. Joseph was not at home in his workshop, but he could earn money by offering his skills door to door or farm to farm, in the same way that gypsies did during my childhood two thousand years later. Prior to that they were described as living in a house when the Magi came - in other words they had sufficient money to move out of the stable. Do you imagine that Joseph begged for the (possibly) two years or so that they were in Egypt?

Some poverty and uncertainty, I agree. But ‘incredible’ poverty?

There’s really nothing that points to the fact that they owned the house. Could have been a relative’s.

And I don’t ‘imagine’ whether Joseph ‘begged’ or not. In plain fact, I don’t know, and neither do you. But Jesus was indeed born into great poverty, becoming poor to make us rich.

At confession recently a very kind and wise priest told me to be mindful, at this time of Advent, that Our Lord came into the world in a small out of the way place of no apparant importance.

He said that this shows us something.

He was reminding me that even in the most unpromising smallness of my heart, so full of sin, God would come.

There s a Biography out from 05 I believe. Its called “Mary” and wriiten by Hazelton. Here we have a scholar who spoke the language and grew in the exact area of the Blessed Mother and spent decades there.

She gives a facinating insight not from a Biblical perspective “this wasn’t her intent.” But to show exactly what the life of Mary would have been like. And it hasn’t changed as much as we would like to think in 2000 years.

For example pregnancy at the Blessed Mother age and others of similiar age was common. Not unheard of at all. The girls/women Marys age would have been well educated in herbal medicine which was an art passed from the elder woman. And life expectancy was very low. A 50 yo man was considered ancient then.

Anyway just a passing through. Biblically the book was very disappointing, but again that wasn’t its intention, but to give this generation the real Mary from 2000 - years ago.

God Bless, GT

Hi, Sailor Kenshin,

Hmmmmmmmmmmm maybe you’re right - he didn’t own the house… the bank did - and he was probably up to date on his mortgage payments becuase of his skills as a carpenter and traveling door-to-door salesman…! :smiley: Now, just how much more outrageous speculation can be added here is anyone’s guess! :wink:

God bless

TQualey of course was right, for this birth in a manger - even so Joseph really wasn’t either poor nor an outcast, indeed was in INCREDIBLE POVERTY! What else is birth in a manger and hostage being refused?!
And then, all around Herods kingdom rumors went; “a new king is born”. Extremely dangerous to the Holy Family and eventually they even had to flee.

As to the shepherds who heard and saw the miracle of Jesus’ birth first; they where looked at as despised trade – yes, even as “illegal trade” and so they had the social status of pagan slaves - or at the outmost - tax collectors. To be a shepherd, meant loss of all civil rights. They where not allowed to enter the temple. In public opinion they even where deeply hated as a stinking lot.

Of course Jesus called Himself always the “Good Shepherd” (but also The King) Jesus is both - He is God.
But there’s a big BUT we ought to mind:
There are shepherds to whom the flock belongs (Jesus) and such, who do the keeping of the sheep for a living for the owners of the flocks (Slaves). Slaves in Jewish regions other than with the Romans, had a certain right of being looked after, according to the Bible’s Old Covenant (Talmud).

Shepherds on the field - not even having a roof above their heads, and not owning these sheep where without any rights and where slaves, keeping the sheep for their owners, as for instance Abraham, who owned Camels and herds of sheep (and also shepherds who kept them on the meadows). Sheepowners can’t be compared with these slaves who got to do it (more or less good and more or less kind).
Or take Job, who owned after his reconciliation with God fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses. (Job 42,12) Job so was a “shepherd” too, but to pasture and oversee the flocks, was the task of the slaves, not owning shepherds nor money, but just what they wore on their bodies and the food and care they got from the “good shepherd” Job.

Contrary to all customs of the time, Jesus then even had the guts to sit on tables of sinners, pagans, and tax-collectors, and Jesus even said and demonstrated to all, that in the eyes of God all men are equal; and Jesus even selected the despiced tax-collector Matthew as one of His disciples.

Of course God doesn’t push anyone towards belief. Of course people didn’t believe those outcasts. The story they told, most took as flight of fancy. Few only understood then - few only understand today. God presented us a lot of hints, but He also leaves it up to each one of us and our free will to believe in God or not to believe. The one and only, all deciding question of our life.

Now some say: How could the Holy Family be poor, after receiving all these presents from the Magi who had left there Gold, Incense and Myrr.
Now, - these presents where definitely not big treasures as some presume. In fact it was diplomatic custom to bring this to a king to show ones adoration.

And besides, the Bible tells nowhere in not a single verse, that the Holy Family was poor. Of course Joseph was well situated. But what came now - the flight and being for years in the hostile country Egypt, eat all “treasures” right away. Jesus truly didn’t tell a joke, when He Himself said in Mt 8,20 and in Luke 9,58: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.”

So - TQualey’s word of “poverty” is in many respects absolutely right!

Here’s another interesting article tho the theme:

Hi, BrunoMaria,

I only have one comment … and in reality,it is based on a very limited sample size…:smiley:

The number of times I have been around sheep could probably be counted on one hand - with a couple of fingers left over! Ah, but their smell is memorable. Now, it could be caused by running around with a wool coat on all the time… but, whatever the reason - people back then who stayed around sheep probably picked up that smell, too. This is not so much a criticism of either sheep or shepherds - but, a mere comment on the realities of hygiene (or our view today contrasted with the view in 1st Century Jerusalem!)

For the most part, we have a pretty sanatized view of biblical events - but, there are sounds and smells not recorded in the Bible’s account of visual events! Excluding ‘stinky shepherds’ probably was something done for the common good of everyone else’s noses (chances are, the shepherds no longer smelled the sheep).

This Christmas season, one of our major responsibilities is to see Christ in others - and that would mean ‘stinky shepherds’ or their contemporary version today - the homeless. Looking for ways to ease their burnden is something we all need to address.

God bless

Shepherds were always very important in the OT. In Genesis the first vocation was the shepherding of Able, and then the tilling of the soil by Cain his older brother. Seth’s 7th great grandson Noah herded and saved all the animals and livestock that survived the Great Flood. Seth’s direct decedents,Abraham, Issac, and Jacob were shepherds. Joseph introduced his family to the Pharaoh as shepherds. The second King of Israel was a Shepherd and David was second only to Jesus Christ, his decedent by the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    Jesus was an outcast for telling the Truth.  So I guess it is no wonder why He identified Himself as the Good Shepherd at times.  He is also the Lamb of God.   Outcasts and the Gentile Kings where among those invited to come see Jesus.   I don't know  I was just wondering about these things.  It is Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas,

As I understand it, the shepherds were not only outcasts, but were excluded from the Temple, which was the house of Jesus’ Father. As well, the Gentiles were clearly excluded from the Temple, and Jesus was not at all happy with those He found within the Temple, having to drive some out with whips (John 2:15), and issuing His even-fold condemnation of the Pharisees (Matthew 23:13-39), who felt entitled to God’s providence solely through their blood relationship to Abraham (Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8, John 8:39). Jesus is called the Good Shepherd, for God alone is “Good” (Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19), as well as showing the contrast with the actual shepherds, who were considered undesirable.

I don’t know if Mary, Joseph and Jesus lived in abject poverty or not. But, I did hear in a homily awhile back that “carpenter” did not mean what we think of as carpenter today. It was said that Joseph would have been more like what we think of construction workers of today. Or “day laborers”, not skilled laborers.

No cozy little carpenter shop for Joseph, with Jesus looking on. Nazareth was too small to support such a venture.
The priest said they probably had to travel to nearby villages to look for work.

Steve Ray, who conducts holy land tours, describes Nazareth as basically one acre of land with about 30 families living in various caves. Not exactly opulence.

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