It was Christmas day. Father Ignatius was celebrating morning Mass. He approached the lectern and asked, "Who is Jesus?"
A young girl up front raised her hand and said, "He is the baby in the crib behind you!"
The priest was taken aback for a split second but quickly recovered, "Yes ... yes ..." he said, "you are correct Yvonne. Let us have a round of applause for Yvonne!"
After the applause died down the priest continued, "We are taught in the Bible that Jesus is the Son of God. Indeed He claimed it many times. That is why He was put to death. But how can we be so sure that this is indeed the case?
"We know that from days of old God taught His people through the works and writings of the prophets. God inspired the prophets what to write. God talked to people directly. People like Abraham and Moses. It is through these writings in the Old Testament that we are told ... or foretold ... about Jesus.
"Did you know that there are more than 300 prophesies about Jesus in the Old Testament that He fulfilled in His life?"
He stopped for a while to let the message sink in. He continued.
"Some prophesies He had no personal control over. I have prepared a short list of prophesies from the Old Testament. You can get your copy from the narthex as you leave.
"Let us look at the prophesy of Christ's birth which we celebrate today. The prophet Micah a contemporary of Isaiah, wrote this some seven hundred years before Jesus was born. It's in Micah 5:2 ... Bethlehem you are one of the smallest towns of Judah, but out of you I will bring a ruler for Israel, whose family line goes back to ancient times.
"In Isaiah 7:14 he says, a young woman, meaning virgin in the Greek translation, who is pregnant will have a son and will name Him Emmanuel.
"In Isaiah 9:6 we read, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
"In Psalm 41:9 we have the prediction that Judas will betray Jesus in the words, Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.
"In the Psalms, written by King David some thousand years before the birth of Jesus, he says in Psalm 22:16-17, Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.
"Later he says, They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
"And in Psalm 22:8 King David says, He trusts in the Lord, they say, let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."
Father Ignatius stopped again for a few seconds. A trick he had learnt to ensure his congregation were listening. After a while he went on.
"As I said earlier, there are about 300 prophesies in the Old Testament about Jesus which He fulfilled in His lifetime. Prophesies about where He would be born. The manner of His death and suffering, where He would be buried. The fact that on His death the Romans would not break His legs as they did to the other two crucified with Him. The fact that the Roman soldiers would divide His clothes amongst themselves and gamble for His robe whilst He hung from the Cross. And so on.
"Now to me, considering all these prophesies by different people and written at different periods of time, some spanning hundreds of years between them and all written hundreds of years before Jesus was born ... I believe that they must have been inspired by God, Who told these people what to write.
"Also, considering the mathematical odds or probabilities that Someone, born many years after the predictions have been made, that person fulfilling so many of them ... well ... the odds or probabilities must be millions to one. Would you not say?
"This Man Jesus, Whose holy birth we celebrate today, must be the one and only Son of God.
"And those who deny it have not studied the evidence carefully and seriously enough. May God forgive them."