of whom hurt and betrayed Him. He had fun, laughed and rejoiced as a real human person! He was comfortable celebrating at a wedding. I disagree with some of my friends in other Christian traditions who now claim that the first great miracle was to make water into grape juice. Not only is this a misreading of Scripture but it can lead to a serious error in which the human is somehow rendered evil. That is not Christianity; it is rather the remnant of early heresies. He turned that water into the finest wine ever tasted!
This real child became a real man with a passionate love for the entire human race. His Divine and Human heart broke from the pain and loss occasioned by our alienation from Him. He wept over Jerusalem! He wept at a friends' funeral. He understands the pain of betrayal because He was betrayed. He understands the loss of loved ones. He doubted. He had fears. That's right - doubt is not sin. Doubt is an opportunity for exercising our freedom, making the choice to believe and to trust. That is what the agony in the Garden was all about.
He “gets it”… and in Him we find the fullness of life and love demonstrated for us to follow. Through the grace that we receive in Him we can now live as He lived, in our daily lives. The beloved disciple John wrote in his first letter “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17 and 18)
This wonderful loving Savior who came into our midst and pitched His tent, had room for everyone within it's embrace! He loved ALL men and women-not just the "loveable", or the "pious" In fact, He was known to associate with "sinners." He was fully human-- as well as fully Divine. His bodiliness was not some ruse-- He pitched His tent among us. He lived the fullness of the human experience in a body. He perspired. He felt fatigue. In fact, He is now at the "right hand" of the Father in a Resurrected Body! That is the Christian claim.
Yet we who are Christians often still do not "get it!" We all too often live the Christian life as though our bodies and the created order are somehow "bad" or less "spiritual".
We profess in our ancient Creed that we believe that we will be raised and live live in resurrected bodies on a new heaven and a new earth for all eternity. Yet we sometimes live as though the physical is divorced from the spiritual.
The "flesh" (sarx) that the scripture warns of is not our body but our tendency to sin. In Jesus Christ we find the way to overcome that tendency and to live our lives in a transformed and transforming way. The "world" that we are warned not to befriend in some of the biblical texts is not the created order (which he called "good" and still loves)but the system that has squeezed the Creator out of His creation and fails to receive this child born in Bethlehem’s cave, making no room for His loving embrace.
Christmas invites us to live, in the here and now, a unity of life. To become comfortable "in our skin"- fully human, enjoying life and loving as Jesus loved. Yet, too often Christians live lives that are perceived as anything but fully human. This kind of approach is not "holy"-- it is weird. It can also impede us in our continuing mission as a people who are now constituted in time to carry forward the redemptive work of Jesus. Who is drawn to a man or woman whom they feel will not have empathy for their own weakness?
The Wound of Sin
At its core, "sin" is an abuse of the freedom to choose given to us by God. This capacity to freely choose to love is what constitutes the "Imago Dei", the image of God in each one of us. God did not create us as robots but as persons. Love does not coerce, it invites. That capacity to choose, to respond to His invitation, has been affected by the "original sin", the great rebellion. Because of sin, all men and women now tend to what classical theology called concupiscence.
Sin has wounded us-- and it has affected the world in which we now live. That is why we could not overcome our own nor the world's corruption without help from heaven. That is why we needed (and still need) to be "saved" by One like us. That is why “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Because He is born, we are now given a new Way on which to walk, and the invitation to live our entire lives "in Him". Because He is born, we are been given the "power to become the children of God" By grace we now have the capacity to choose love and so to be transformed into Him who is Love incarnate.
The Fullness of Time
On Christmas we remember that in the "fullness of time" God came among us. Heaven touched earth and earth has been elevated! The all- powerful God who made both heaven and earth became a vulnerable baby and chose to give Himself away in love to His creation.
The eternal entered time and time has been forever sanctified. Oh, the mystery of this moment, the grandeur of this Feast! For too much of our history as a Christian people we have missed the profound foundational truth of the entire Christian Mystery. Let us not miss it this year.
The Incarnation continues! (Col 1:24) The Word still becomes flesh in and through each of us who have been baptized into Him. His tent is still being "pitched" among all men and women. That tent is His Body, His Church, and all those who are now incorporated into Him through Baptism, are also called to spread the tent-pegs and make room in the tent for the entire human race. The Church is the home of the whole human race and we are commissioned to bring all the wayward sons and daughters home for the Holiday.
The same Word through whom the Universe was made is the Word through whom it is now being redeemed and re-created. That transformation will finally be completed when all things are reconstituted in Him in the new Heaven and New Earth.
On this one wonderful day called "Christ-Mass" the entire world rightly pauses. Heaven has come to earth so that earth can be brought to heaven. The great event of Christmas touches every man, woman and child. The entire world is again presented with the Christian claim---"the Word became flesh and dwelt among us."
Let those of us who have embraced the truth of this claim now manifest- in our own lives and families- the fruits of the Incarnation. Let us become a Christmas people and offer through our lives of love the greatest gift of all. Let us continue to manifest the beauty of the Incarnation to a world that still waits to be born.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Christmas / Advent News
- A Layman's Plea for Tolerance of Catholics
- A Question For The Christmas Season: Do You Want To Become A Saint?
- Every Leader Supporting Abortion is Herod, Every Child Killed a Holy Innocent
- Feast of St. Stephen, Proto-Martyr, Calls us to Reflect on the Gift of Deacons
- Fr. Sly on the Feast of St John in the Octave of Christmas
- Welcoming the Birth of the Redeemer in the Womb: Jesus was an Embryonic Person
- Merry Christmas: Love is Born on Christmas Morn and the World is Born Anew
- Pope St Leo the Great: Christian, Remember Your Dignity
- Pope Benedict XVI: If God's Light is Extinguished, Man's Divine Dignity is also Extinguished
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?