Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
This day a Savior has been born for us!
This is the Good News echoing through the centuries, coming to us who celebrate these days the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
The One in whom, through whom and for whom the entire universe was created. The One who is unfathomable, infinite, assumes our poor, fragile and vulnerable condition for one and only one reason: He is passionately in love with us and desires to enrich us with His life.
His love for us is so radical and so deep, His desire for our participation in His own life is so big, that he does what nobody could have ever dreamt of. He assumes our humanity without ceasing to be God.
In the prologue of the Gospel according to St. John we are told that He becomes flesh. It is interesting to dwell on the expression used by the Evangelist. He does not say that He became man or a human being, but flesh.
The word used by St. John in the original Greek text has pejorative connotations in other texts, even in the epistles of St. Paul. It is generally used to oppose the imperishable, incorruptible condition of God to the frail, miserable and precarious condition of man. By stating that the Word becomes “flesh” instead of “man”, St. John emphasizes the fact that the Incarnation of the Eternal Word of God is real, not an appearance.
God has indeed assumed human nature. He has not clothed Himself with it. Rather, He embraces the vulnerability, fragility and existential poverty proper to human beings. He does that precisely to enrich us with His life.
The dignity inherent to every human being created in the image and likeness of God, reaches an incomparable level. Every human being, simply because he or she exists is now united with God. Human nature, present in each and every one of us, is intimately and irrevocably united to divine nature in the person of Jesus Christ, the child born for us in Bethlehem from Mary, to whom Joseph gives the name revealed to him by the angel.
The Incarnation, the birth of Christ is the culmination of God’s creative work. He desires to bring the universe to its consummation in Him.
You will be like gods, was the lie uttered by the serpent in that fateful encounter that introduced sin and discord in creation. Yet, we can now truly participate in his divinity because He has deigned Himself stoop down to our destitute condition to lift it to unsuspected levels of grace and life. Today God, the only true God becomes flesh.
The frail, vulnerable, defenseless child the shepherds see in the manger, is truly God. He has assumed our human nature to enter into solidarity with those who are created in His image and likeness. His solidarity is unto death on the cross, precisely so as to destroy the power of death and open wide for us the possibility of participation in divine life.
Our beautiful manger scenes made of fine porcelain, crystal or wood, may sometimes become an obstacle for the contemplation of the event we celebrate, our awareness of that timeless today echoing through the centuries. Their esthetic beauty may make us oblivious to the presence of the cross, man’s rejection of God made man. Jesus Christ is born among beasts, in a stable, forgotten by the world, in an obscure place within the empire, far away from those who wield worldly power, welcomed by Mary and Joseph, adored by angels, receiving the visit of a few lowly shepherds.
But today, this very day, the darkness of sin and death give way to the light that has been lit in Bethlehem, which will become a strong beacon of light when the hour of Jesus comes, the moment of his glorification, the consummation of our redemption.
We have become sons and daughters in the Son. We know what we are, even though, as St. John says, it is not fully manifest yet. But we know it because we have seen the glory of the Lord who is born today. We have found Him in Baptism. We encounter Him anew in the Eucharist we celebrate, in the sacraments, in His Word and also, as He tells us, in our brothers and sisters, especially the least and the needy.
The Prince of Peace, Counsellor, Almighty God announced by the prophet Isaiah is indeed present in our midst. Great is his birth, eternal is His Kingdom. Let us go forth to meet Him. Today is the day, this is the hour!
Fr. Roberto M. Cid