THE EDITOR, Sir:
Mr Ian Boyne, in his annual anti-Christmas campaign, explored the lead-up to the decision as to the date on which Jesus' birth should be celebrated, but he omitted how the final decision was arrived at.
It is known that the birth of John the Baptist was announced by the angel to the priest Zacharias on the day of Atonement, the angel appeared to Mary and announced the incarnation of Jesus six months later, in March, and Jesus was born nine months later, December. God is master of nature, so the season is of no consequence.
When the debate arose as to the precise date in December of Jesus' birth, St Cyril of Jerusalem wrote to Pope Julius I in Rome, asking him to assign the correct date as recorded in the archives of Rome. The report sent back reads:
"The first coming of our Lord in the flesh in which he has been begotten in Bethlehem took place December 25, the fourth day in the reign of Augustus' 42nd year and in the year 5,500 from Adam. And he suffered in the 33rd year, March 25, the parasceve, in the 18th year of Tiberius Caesar, during the consulate of Rufus and Rubellio."
He also mentioned Emperor Aurelian introducing Sol Invictus into Rome 274 CE but fails to point out that he introduced Sol Invictus to oppose Christianity, which was successfully converting the Romans from the worship of the Sun god, Mithra. Half-truths are very dangerous. It should be noted that it is only since the 18th century, when numerous individual churches with no history came into being, that these matters are being questioned by these disobedients.
Luke 2:13-14 tells us that the angels were celebrating Jesus' birth and gifts were brought by the Magi Matthew 2:11. So there was celebration and gift-giving. Ian Boyne missed the boat.
In addition, Jesus Himself told the apostles that they could not be told everything at once, but the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (John 16:12-13). Ian is not taking the spiritual dimensions of the Church into account; he is looking at the physical only. The Church grows and develops.