Friday, December 21, 2007


...may we come to share the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.

Just think - the infinite, eternal God humbled himself to enter the finite space and time of this world, and become one of us! This awesome Christian doctrine of the Incarnation is, of course, central to our celebration of Christmas.

But there's more. Liturgically, Christmas is the first of several 'epiphany', or 'manifestation' celebrations. The appearance of the star, leading the Magi (us Gentiles) to the Messiah, is a second instance of this manifestation. Next, John the Baptist recognizes and proclaims the Christ when Jesus comes for baptism, a third instance of Christ revealing himself. Next, Jesus performs his first miracle, changing water into wine at the Cana wedding feast, thus beginning his public ministry. Christmas, Epiphany, the Baptism in the Jordan, and the wedding at Cana, are celebrated in close proximity because they are all celebrations of the same thing: of the appearance of the Messiah, the Son of God among us.

The Annunciation In a different manner, Christmas is also closely associated with another liturgical celebration, one that is less apparent, more hidden, but perhaps more profound. That liturgical celebration is March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is to become the mother of the Christ, and Mary says 'Yes'. This is the real moment of Incarnation, when 'the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us'. It is at this moment that God becomes one of us and takes on human flesh within the womb of the Virgin. Nine months later, on December 25, Christ is born. He makes his appearance, and the truth that was hidden for nine months becomes manifest.

As noted in an earlier post, belief in the Incarnation has (or should have) some very practical ramifications for the believer. Each of us is also an incarnation of sorts, a union of a physical, animal body with an eternal, spiritual soul. And, like Christ, our personal incarnation began before we were born. The joyous event of birth is but the manifestation of an incarnation that had its hidden beginning nine months before.

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