December 16, 2021
For the past three Sunday’s of Advent our attention has looked forward to the Second Coming of Christ. This Sunday we turn our attention to Christ’s first coming, to the gift of the Incarnation. We sing O Come Emmanuel: God with us!
Words matter!! The word incarnation means enfleshment. When we speak of the Incarnation we have to be attentive to our language. When we say that God becomes human we need to be more explicit. We believe in a God who is three in one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It’s not enough to say that God becomes human. We need to be clear. It is not the Father who became human, it is not the Spirit who became human. In the Incarnation the great love of God was manifested when the Father sent the Son to become human alongside us in the person of Jesus. The Word of God became human. In the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word, entered into human history.
And here we introduce another essential part of our understanding of Christ: In the way he lived, in the way he died and in the way he was raised from the dead (the Paschal Mystery) Christ showed us a way of being human alongside him, a way to return to the Father. Through Christ we are saved.
No matter what feast we celebrate, no matter the time of year, this one, all-encompassing Mystery, the Paschal Mystery, is what we celebrate. We can think of the Paschal Mystery as a multifaceted diamond. In its totality it is always present in everything we celebrate but because it is so deep, we focus on different aspects of it at different times, never forgetting that we are always feasting the entire Mystery. As we approach Christmas we focus on the Incarnation, of God with us, while recognizing that the totality of the Paschal Mystery is here in our midst, in all we do.