Q — What is the significance of Jesus being born 2,000 years ago? Was there some event, series of events or other circumstances that made his birth appropriate for that time period? Why not 500 years earlier or 500 years later?

A — This is a really interesting question but in the nature of the case it is impossible to reach a completely satisfying answer intellectually. Some thinkers suggest that the birth of Jesus 2,000 years ago — and the mission of the Lord and the early church — was prepared for by the circumstances of the Roman Empire. In order to provide for the rapid movement of Roman military, a network of roads was created throughout the entirety of the Empire. This made it possible for the mission of our blessed Lord and the church to reach “all the nations” (Matthew 28:20). Thus, for example, the missionary journeys of St. Paul, difficult though they were as we know from his letters, would have been next to impossible without this network of roads throughout the empire. Other thinkers suggest that the development of philosophy among the Greeks — think of Plato and Aristotle, for example —created an intellectual milieu that offered fertile possibilities for the articulation and spread of the Christian gospel. This kind of thinking, of course, though speculative can be helpful. But when all is said and done the decision about the precise moment of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ lies within the Trinity. There is a very helpful passage in the letter to the Hebrews: “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, throw whom he also created the worlds” (1:1-2). The Word through whom God created all created reality is the Eternal Word, and that Word became flesh in the womb of our Blessed Lady at the moment of the Annunciation. Why at that precise moment, and not some other? Therein lies the scandal of particularity.