HOMILY FOR CHRISTMAS DAY
THEME: THE WORD BECAME FLESH.
BY: Fr. Vincent Onwukwe
Three essential verbs, among other things, convey the message of Christmas: ‘to come’, ‘to be’, and ‘to become’. First, Christmas reminds us of the Lord’s coming. He also comes as Emmanuel, the God who has come to be with us. He does this by becoming flesh. This third point, more than the first two, captures the meaning of Christmas. By becoming flesh, God became part of human civilisation to transform and redeem it from its fallen state. While ‘to come’ implies a movement from one location to another, and ‘to be’ means ‘to exist’ or ‘to occur’, ‘to become’ connotes something deeper ‒ integration. If a migrant moves from Belgium to Nigeria, it is customary to say that he/she is in Nigeria. But if he becomes a Nigerian, he has been profoundly and legally integrated into Nigerian life. Similarly, Christ was integrated into a human system at various levels when he became flesh. This integration aims to transform that human state, bringing divinity into it.
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As individual Christians, when Christ becomes flesh in us, it implies that He has ‘become us’ and improved our identity with divine dignity. Like St Paul, we can therefore say: “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God…” (Gal 2:20). To be sure, our true identity is made manifest when we experience this integration into Christ; because he is the source of our existence: all things came into being through Him. In this direction, St Leo the Great admonishes us to discard our old nature and renounce the works of the flesh when we discover our true identity in Christ. Hence, he states: “Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition.” Sadly, in the lives of many Christians, Christ has come ‘to be with’, but He is yet to become flesh. Christmas celebration, therefore, challenges us to allow Christ to be deeply integrated into our lives.
May Jesus, the Lord who has come to be with us, completely take flesh in you that you may be ‘Christified!’ Amen!
Merry Christmas and a fruitful New Year!
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