Now that the liturgical season of Christmas is upon us, I cannot help but reflect upon the great mystery of the Incarnation.
Whenever I find myself reflecting on the Son of God becoming man, I become overwhelmed by the sheer gift of love and generosity that God has for us. I am awed by the perfect love that He has demonstrated towards us in sending His Son into a world full of sin.
Sometimes I wonder why God chooses to save us in this way when He could have saved us in any other way. He could have simply snapped His fingers, and we would have all been saved. But no. God wanted to bring about our salvation by becoming one of us.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 422 speaks of Christ’s Incarnation:
‘But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.’This is ‘the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’:’God has visited his people. He has fulfilled the promise he made to Abraham and his descendants. He acted far beyond all expectation – he has sent his own ‘beloved Son’.
“The Word Became Flesh and Made His Dwelling Among Us”
The Catechism goes on to give us four reasons that Christ became man.
First, it says that Christ became man “in order to save us by reconciling us with God” (457).
The reality of the baby born in the manger is the cross. Christ’s mission in coming to earth was to save us from the powers of sin and darkness, and He accomplished this through His death on the Cross. Acts 4:12 says that “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved”. His death was our passageway to reconciliation between God and man. Our sins have been expiated, and we can now be united with Him for all of eternity.
Second, the Catechism states that the incarnation took place so “that thus we might know God’s love” (458).
St. Therese of Lisieux has said that “A God who became so small could only be mercy and love”. As the “Word made flesh”, Jesus Christ is the prime example of the Father’s love for us. The fact that he would come to earth as a little, helpless baby, completely dependent on Mary and Joseph, reveals the immensity of His love for us. God desired that the human race know the great love that He has for us. He carried this desire out by sending His only Son into the world and allowing Him to die for all of humanity.
Third, Christ became man “to be our model of holiness” (459).
Jesus is the ultimate example of holiness. He is the prototype of who we are called to be as Sons and Daughters of God. Through his death, he demonstrates to us the type of love that we are to be towards others. He has shown us how to give of ourselves. His death clearly presents to us the fact that “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
The Incarnation Made us Partakers of the Divine Nature
Fourth, the incarnation occurred in order “to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature’” (460).
As the Son of God, Christ came so that we, in turn, may become Sons and Daughters of God. He wanted us to have a share in His Divinity. One of my personal favorite Saints and a Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, has said: “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods”. The fact that Christ came not only to bring about reconciliation but to allow us to participate in Divine Sonship brings great comfort to me. It reveals the depth of His love.
A detailed explanation on this concept can be found in this YouTube video.
This Christmas, let us take some time to reflect on this great mystery of the Incarnation. During this time of giving, let us remember the ultimate gift that God has given us in sending His Son into the world to redeem us, to show us His great love, to bring us to a deeper holiness, and to make us more and more like Him. Merry Christmas!