Homily for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) (3)

Theme: The Motives of the Incarnation
By: Rev. Fr. Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.
Homily for Saturday December 25 2021
The “hierarchy of truths” is an important term in the Catholic theological tradition. Unfortunately, it is frequently misused, especially in ecumenical dialogue, to imply that certain Catholic doctrines and truths are less important to the faith than others. On the contrary, the “hierarchy of truths” implies that certain truths of faith serve as the foundation for other truths and illuminate them.
In the Catholic theological tradition, each doctrine differs in its relationship to the fundamental Christian faith. As a result, the Catholic Church recognizes that the path to agreement on disputed doctrines among Christian denominations is the path of faith itself, premised on fundamental truths about God and Christ (Unitatis Redintegratio, no. 11).
These fundamental truths of Catholicism are classified into four categories: the mysteries of the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation and Paschal Mystery, the Holy Spirit, and the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ (General Catechetical Directory, no. 43).
Today, the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) is a celebration of one of the foundational truths of our faith: “The Word became flesh”. It is the cornerstone of our faith because it confirms our faith in the Triune God: “The Economic Trinity is the Immanent Trinity and Vice Versa” and lays the groundwork for subsequent truths about the Paschal mystery, Pentecost, and the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.
The Mystery of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of God, the Christ, the Incarnate Word can easily be overlooked these days, either because we have grown accustomed to it or because we live in a heavily secularized culture. This is especially true for those of us who have been Catholic our entire lives and have been taught since childhood that God the Son took on human form over two thousand years ago.
As a result, two inquiries may help us gain a better grasp of today’s solemnity: What purpose does incarnation serve? And why is the celebration of the birthday of Jesus Christ still relevant today?
St. Athanasius, an early Church Father, responds to our first question with his “doctrine of divinization.” The Christian message, according to St. Athanasius, is one of salvation, and our Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior who delivers us from the bonds of sin and corruption. He explained the purpose of the Incarnation of the Son of God through the lens of redemption and the reality of human redemption. For him, salvation is the restoration of the intimate union between God and man. This restoration of communion entails that the redeemed must be dual in nature. The redeemed must be divine and human; otherwise, the broken communion between God and man would not have been restored. This is what he means when he says, “God became man in order for man to become God.”
By his incarnation, our humanity is lifted into the very life of God, we are given a dignity greater than in the first creation. Because of the Incarnation we are made close to God because we are made his sons and daughters through the Son. So, God became man so that man might share in the life of God.
Why is the celebration of the birthday of Jesus Christ still relevant today? Among the numerous questions that plague our minds is God’s presence in the face of our human realities, particularly the unpleasant ones. How would you explain the death of a family by a drunk driver on their way home from Sunday Mass? Why is it that God cannot protect his people, if only because they have just worshiped him? Why is it that the innocent suffer while the wicked seem to prosper? These and numerous other questions beg for answers, and they often lead us to believe that God is unconcerned.
Dear friends, God became man in order for God to become “Emmanuel”—”God with us.” Christmas is God’s way of demonstrating his love for us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). At Christmas, the distant God becomes our God, “Emmanuel”—”God with us” (Mt 1:23). Christmas is God telling us that he cares about us. “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). God is in our midst as the ones who loves and cares about us. God is aware of us and our human realities. God is “Emmanuel,” God with us. God has a face, the face of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
As you celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, keep in mind the motives of his incarnation. He became a man in order for you to become a part of God’s life. Never lose sight of the fact that he is Emmanuel, God with us. God actually loves and cares about you. “Is it possible for a mother to forget her infant, to be indifferent to the child in her womb? Regardless of whether she forgets, I will never forget you,” says the Lord (Isaiah 49:15). Let us contemplate this great mystery of love together; let us fill our hearts with the light that shines in Bethlehem’s stable! I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday.
Homily for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
December 25, 2021

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