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The birthday of the God

Caesar Augustus’ census (Lk 2:1) was the catalyst that fulfilled Micah’s prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2). And, in Jesus of Nazareth—The Infancy Narratives, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI highlights various links between Jesus and Caesar.

An inscription at Priene, Turkey, an ancient site of pagan temples, eulogises the birth of Caesar Augustus in terms that could well be used of Christ: “Providence (sent) him as a Saviour both for us and our descendants… The birthday of the god was the beginning of the good tidings that he brought for the world.”

He points out that the census occurred, truly, in the fullness of time (Gal 4: 4–5), given that the Roman Empire had created “a commonality of law and property on a large scale” and introduced a “universal language” which made possible “trade in ideas and goods”.

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