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Did the Sheep Eat Halo-halo during Christmas?

Posted by catholicfaithdefender on December 27, 2008

Did the Sheep Eat Halo-halo during Christmas? The Climate in Bethlehem during December by Jubernson Alabastro, CFD-Davao


Bethlehem’s Field of Flowers during December
One pastor said that it is impossible for Christ to be born on December 25 or any day of December because it is winter and hence, there is snow. According to the gospel account in Luke 2:8, there were shepherds out in the field to keep watch over their flock; if that is the case, added this fourth magi who was probably left out by his companions who paid tribute and offered gifts to the Messiah (Matthew 2:11), it is impossible for Christ to be born on December because “SHEEP DO NOT EAT HALO-HALO! Some Protestant Pastors further claim that it is too cold for shepherds to be out that night herding their sheep. The only time when Shepherds do that, they say, is during lambing. How should Catholics answer these charges?

It is very true that December is winter time in Bethlehem or in Jerusalem. In fact, John 10:22 says that it was winter during the Feast of Dedication or Feast of the Light. The said feast is celebrated by the Jews during the 25th day of Chislev or December (1 Macc. 5:52); it marks the cleansing of the temple under the Maccabees and re-dedicating it to God and hence, it coincides with Christmas. But the problem with our Protestant friends is that, when they read that it was winter, they immediately concluded that the place must have been covered with snow! In logic, this fallacy is called the Confusion of the Absolute and Qualified Statement, that is, using a principle that is restricted in its applicability as though it were absolutely universal principle, and thus applying it to cases for which it was not intended [1] In America for example, though it is winter time during December, there are places which do not experience snow such as California. The same thing can be said about Bethlehem that although it is winter and cold, there is no snow covering the area during December. According to the International Station Meteorological Climate Summary (ISMCS,) the average temperature in Bethlehem is 49 Fahrenheit[2]. The average low i.e. during nighttime is 43 Fahrenheit[3] Therefore it is a mild winter, and not an icy winter, that occurs in Bethlehem during the month of December; so to our dearly separated brethren, the HALO-HALO argument is now a melted argument!

Christmas coincides with the Feast of Dedication or the Feast of the light of the Jewish people and for good reason: This Jewish feast has found new meaning with the birth of the Messiah as He is the True light of the world who overcomes the darkest period of man (John 1:4-7, 9 – Compare to Psalm 36:9; John 12:46; Wis 7:26; Heb. 1:3,) just as Judas Maccabees came to save the Jews during the darkest day of the year (Chislev or December 25) at the darkest time of Jewish history (1 Macc 4.) Unfortunately there are those who do not appreciate the significance of this important celebration which marks the coming of the light into our lives; the reason being as what St. John perfectly described in his epistle, “And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. (John 3:19-20)
Too cold for shepherds to go out during December night?

The issue that it is too cold for shepherds to go out during December night is partially addressed above. The temperature, as mentioned earlier, is tolerable for shepherds to withstand the coldness of the night. Moreover, Harper’s Encyclopedia of Bible Life [(C) 1971, pg. 7] explains that what is unique about Israel’s weather is that, winter season is NOT the “dead” season when plants die because of low temperature. On the contrary, it is the time of year when dormant vegetations are revived after the “dead” season of summer by the intermittent winter rains starting in mid-October and ending in mid-March. This being the case, and considering that the surrounding land just went through the dry season, depriving the sheep of sufficient food for months, it is very likely and logical that the shepherds would let their sheep out in the field during this season of revived vegetation so as to feed their flock.
Furthermore whether it is dry or winter season is irrelevant because the Shepherd’s job continue nevertheless, even during cold and sleepless nights:
Gen 31:40 How often the scorching heat ravaged me by day, and the frost by night, while sleep fled from my eyes!
The reason why shepherds must remain on guard regardless of the season is because of the dangers that his sheep and goats might encounter:
1 Sam. 17:34-35 Then David told Saul: Your servant used to tend his father’s sheep, and whenever a lion or bear came to carry off a sheep from the flock, (35) I would go after it and attack it and rescue the prey from its mouth. If it attacked me, I would seize it by the jaw, strike it, and kill it.
Isaiah 31:4 Thus says the LORD to me: As a lion or a lion cub growling over its prey, With a band of shepherds assembled against it, Is neither frightened by their shouts nor disturbed by their noise, So shall the LORD of hosts come down to wage war upon the mountain and hill of Zion.
Jeremiah 5:6 Therefore lions from the forest slay them, wolves of the desert ravage them, Leopards keep watch round their cities: all who come out are torn to pieces For their many crimes and their numerous rebellions.
Amos 3:12 Thus says the LORD: As the shepherd snatches from the mouth of the lion a pair of legs or the tip of an ear of his sheep, So the Israelites who dwell in Samaria shall escape with the corner of a couch or a piece of a cot.
Aside from these dangers, shepherds must constantly guide their sheep because they do not possess the same instinct that other animals have. For example:
Sheep are helpless and have to be led to their food by their shepherd. The love of God for His people is likened to a shepherd’s love for his flock.
Psalm 23:1-2 A psalm of David. I The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. (2) In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me;
Numbes 27:17 who shall act as their leader in all things, to guide them in all their actions; that the LORD’S community may not be like sheep without a shepherd. (Compare with John 10)
Sheep do not also know their way home and must be led again by the shepherds.
Ezekiel 34:6-8 and wandered over all the mountains and high hills; my sheep were scattered over the whole earth, with no one to look after them or to search for them. (7) Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: (8) As I live, says the Lord GOD, because my sheep have been given over to pillage, and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast, for lack of a shepherd; because my shepherds did not look after my sheep, but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep;
Ezekiel 34:12 As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark.
These people who argue that it is too cold for shepherds going out during the night of December and that the watching of flocks at nighttime is done only during lambing, are not true “Pastors” in the biblical sense of the word! Otherwise they would have known the responsibility required of a true shepherd! These people are hired men who will leave the sheep behind once a wolf comes in (John 10:12-13; Isaiah 56:10-11; Ezek. 34:8,10; Zec. 11:15,17)
Not Celebrating Christmas, totally new?
Is the practice of not celebrating Christmas totally new? There is an interesting meaning I found out why St. John wrote “winter” in John 10:22 which might explain the “dissenting opinion” in celebrating Christmas. The following were taken from The Great commentary of Cornelius à Lapide on John 10:22:
“St. Cyril said, “winter” was said in order to give the reason why Jesus walked in the Porch (John 10:23), so as to be under cover or stay away from the cold. Mystically there is here signified (says the Gloss) the coldness of the Jews, who draw not near to the fire, i.e. who believe not in Christ.
St.Augustine says, “The Jews were cold in charity and love, and were burning with eagerness to do hurt; they approached Him not as followers, but pressed on Him as persecutors.” “Do thou also,” says Theophylact, “while it is winter, that is while this present life is shaken with the whirlwinds of iniquity, keep the spiritual dedication feast, by daily renewing thyself, and by ordering the ascensions of thy heart.” Christ will be present to thee in Solomon’s Porch, making for thee a peaceable resting-place.
The Halo-halo argument reflects the coldness of hearts that some of our Protestant brethrens have in not welcoming our Savior into the world and their burning desire to discredit the bride of Christ, the Catholic Church. It is the same attitude shown by the Jews during the Feast of Dedication. It is the same experience that Jesus underwent in looking for a place to stay during his birth. In other words, it is the same cold December breeze that greeted our Lord in those two events! Yes my dear brethren, rejecting Christmas is not totally a new thing! To borrow one of our brethren’s favorite expressions, it is in fact, “WRITTEN!’ It is written that THE FIRST CHRISTMAS WAS A REJECTION OF CHRISTMAS!
Luke 2:7 and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Matthew 2:16 When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. May we not reject our Lord in His very special day, the way he was rejected at his first coming. May we welcome the light into our hearts so that we too might walk in the light (John 12:35) and become the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). As we walk in the light, may the Holy Spirit dwell into our body, His temple, and cleanse it from the different pagan gods of pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth just as Judas Maccabees cleansed the Jewish temple of its pagan gods.
Christmas in the Spring? – A look at a few of the Protestant arguments against Christ being born in December.
Harper’s Encyclopedia of Bible Life (C) 1971

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
All scriptural citations are from the New American Bible (C) 1987
The Great Commentary of Cornelius Lapide
Suggested Readings:

THE DATE OF CHRIST’S BIRTH Critical Examination by Brother Bruno Bonnet-Eymard
Choosing the Date of Christmas:Why is Christmas Celebrated on December 25? By David Bennett
All About Christmas
Calculating Christmas
The Idea of Christ Being Born on a “Midnight Clear” Has A “Apocrypha” Connection.
Is God Against Christmas? By Raymond L. Cox

ADDENDUM by Fr. Abe Arganiosa, CRS

It is also to be noted that December is perfect for Shepherds to guard their sheep because it is lambing season. And the Jewish shepherds were and still are very careful to guard their sheep during the lambing season because they have make it sure that lambs are born without defects and that injury to the ewes must be avoided. Otherwise, they will no longer be pleasing to God for Sacrifices and for Passover Meals.

Here comes the perfect harmony between Nature and the Divine Plan of God and the Liturgy of the Church: JESUS CHRIST — THE LAMB OF GOD — WAS BORN IN THE CLIMAX OF THE LAMBING SEASON.

The claims of Iglesia ni Cristo [INC] pastors and that of Eliseo Soriano that it is impossible for Jesus to be born in December because during this Season the Field of Bethlehem is covered with snow is actually based on Practical Ignorance of the Geography and Climate of the Holy Land. For further evidence here are the links for You Tube Videos showing Bethlehem during Christmas Season from Bro. Jub Alabastro:

Christmas Celebrations in Bethlehem, December 24 2007 —

and again,

[1] Introduction to Logic by Fr. Andrew Bachhuber S.J. 1957 edition p. 184


One Response to “Did the Sheep Eat Halo-halo during Christmas?”

  1. I am a reader from India and it has been good to visit your blog. I am a Christian apologist from India. It has been good to visit your blog.

    Dr. Johnson C. Philip

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