It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Certainly there are plenty of decorations, parties, gifts, music and all the paraphernalia of the holiday. But for us Christians there is also something more and of much more meaning and consequence.
We are celebrating the mystery of the Incarnation. We affirm the wild and even crazy belief that God has become human. If you don’t think that is a huge proposition to swallow, then clearly you have not thought long and hard enough about just what it is we are observing and celebrating at Christmas.
The God of all the universe, existing before all time, Who is the cause for and continues to hold in existence all of creation (billions of galaxies each with billions of stars and even more dark matter and dark energy), has become a helpless human baby. That is pretty wild. And yet that is what we profess every Sunday in the Creed and what we will celebrate on Christmas. If you think about this seriously for any length of time it will make you a bit giddy, it is so overwhelming.
Back in 1977 seven English theologians (Christian but not Catholic) wrote a book titled: “The Myth of God Incarnate.” Recently Cardinal Christoph Schöborn, of Vienna, wrote a response (published by Paulist Press of course!) entitled “The Mystery of the Incarnation.” It is a short book, describing how mythic language can also speak of a concrete reality. The Incarnation is a mystery that is all that we say it is and more that we cannot say.
Even more mind-blowing is the section where Cardinal Schöborn discusses the goal of the Incarnation. In short, God became (hu)man so that we might become god. We mortals receive divine life in Christ. In this context, the Cardinal quotes St. Paul, “You know the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9)
So as we celebrate the Feast of Christmas, let us not forget to look beyond the eggnog, the candy, the lights, the festive costumes, the food and the endlessly repeated music, to look lovingly into the breath-taking mystery of the Incarnation, which in sum is the Mystery of God’s Love for us.