provided us with the means and the grace to become his children, a sublime feat he accomplished by sending his Son into the vineyard who, within the holy tabernacle of the Virgin Mary's womb, became man by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord Jesus assumed humanity in order to deify humanity; by assuming human flesh the Son of God re-created humanity through his redemptive suffering and death on the Roman cross. In Christ we become fully human as members of his one Body, our Lord who is "the way and the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6).
Therefore, as Vatican II teaches, "it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear. . . . Christ the new Adam," continues the Council Fathers, "in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling" (Gaudium et spes 22).
In the Person of Jesus Christ we find every single answer to the question of who man is: for what he is created and for what he is destined; how he is to give, offer and receive; how he is to act and live and suffer and love. The Paschal Mystery is the paradigm of our life as fully human persons. We are to become "little Christs." The story of Jesus is to become the story of myself. The life of "I" as a person is to be merged into perfect union with the life of Christ as a member of his Body. It is in becoming one with the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth's life that we attain to the heights of the incomparable beauty and mystery of the Christian life as members of the divine family.
"Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him" -- Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospel of John (14:23).
Thus Advent is a time in which we brace ourselves for a divine experience. This experience does not equate to material prosperity; nor does it mean we are here and now freed from tension or tragedy or illness or sadness. It is an experience far beyond these things. It is a demanding experience of both sacrifice and love; one which is realized as we give Christ our "flesh," as Pope Benedict suggested in his statement above.
There is an ancient Roman proverb, audaces juvat fortuna: fortune favors the bold. The Christian life, one in union with the Paschal Mystery of Christ, requires a certain amount of courage. Yet we draw our strength from the Risen One who died for us and who never fails us. Therefore we have every reason to hope we shall attain our destiny:
"Advent, therefore, is a favorable time for the rediscovery of a hope that is not vague and deceptive but certain and reliable, because it is "anchored" in Christ, God made man, the rock of our salvation" -- Pope Benedict, First Sunday of Advent, 2007
F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at catholicpathways.com
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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.
Keywords: advent, paschal mystery of Christ, life of Christ, Christian discipleship, preparation for the Christ Child, the meaning of life, F. K. Bartels
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