The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light! (Is 9:1). The long Advent wait is over, and the promised Messiah has come into the world. This feast of Christmas is so important that there are four liturgies to celebrate this day. The Vigil Mass, the Mass at Midnight, the Mass at Dawn and the Mass during the Day all build on each other, as if bringing ever more light into the world. Today we celebrate the Incarnation of the Word, God made flesh, who has come to dwell among us. God has extended his mercy toward us by coming to earth in the flesh to show us the way to heaven. “In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity in order to reconcile it with its creator” (St. Leo the Great, in Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings, Christmas, p. 405).
Today’s reading from Hebrews speaks of the relationship between the Father and the Son. God the Son is eternally one with the Father, who, through the Son, created all things. “He has spoken to us through the Son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe.” Christ the Word of God is the perfect revelation of the Father’s love and wisdom. For this reason, divine revelation reached its culmination in Jesus Christ. Christ, fully God and fully man, is the only one who could reconcile a sinful world with the Father. We read that Jesus is the “refulgence” of the Father’s glory and “the very imprint of his being,” which means that he is the exact representation of the Father’s being and shines brightly in our midst.
The famous passage from the beginning of John’s Gospel reveals the divinity of Christ, the eternal Word of the Father. From all eternity, God the Father generates the Word, who is the divine Person of God the Son. “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This verse alludes to the doctrine of the Trinity: the Word, who is God the Son, is of the same substance as God the Father yet distinct from God the Father. “The Church confessed at the first ecumenical council at Nicaea that the Son is ‘consubstantial’ with the Father, that is, one only God with him” (CCC 242). We profess this truth in the Creed every week; “…I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father…” Christ is the true light of the world who pierces the darkness of sin and illuminates the path toward salvation.
God the Son, who is outside of time, “born of the Father before all ages,” enters time and is born of the Virgin Mary in order to redeem us. “Though invisible in his own divine nature, he has appeared visibly in ours; and begotten before all ages, he has begun to exist in time; so that, raising up in himself all that was cast down, he might restore unity to all creation…” (Preface II of the Nativity of the Lord). It is overwhelming: that the God who made the universe and everything in it would lower himself to enter into what he created. At a moment in time, he steps into his creation to be with us, to become one of us in all ways except sin. God humbles himself to become man and takes on our frail human nature.
What is our response to this? Do we make a place for Jesus in our hearts? So often we are interiorly cluttered, even defiled, with our agenda and our attachments. We cannot provide a perfect palace for the King. Though that is what he deserves, we cannot offer what we do not have. The manger was crude and very simple, yet it was clean, and it welcomed the Prince of Peace. The Lord wants to come into our hearts. He is looking not for luxury but for welcome, for purity, for poverty of spirit.
How can I welcome the Prince of Peace into my heart? Do I desire unity with the Lord? In what ways does Christ illuminate my areas of darkness?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 15, no. 1. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.