The Incarnation

4th Sunday of Advent
Beloved in the Lord Jesus, the foundation of the entire structure of the Christian Faith, is the divinity of it’s Founder.[i] Our religion is not made by man, but was given to us by God who walked the earth. Everything we believe and teach, the sacraments, rituals the moral way of life we lead – all of this is for the very reason that it was given to us by a Divine Voice.
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If we look at the solar system, we see that all things are dependent and centered on the sun; the sun’s gravity keeps the planets in orbit, the sun’s light and heat keep our planet alive.
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Just as the solar system would fail if the sun were not there, so the doctrines and teachings of our faith would be worthless unless they are centered on Christ’s divinity.
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In the Nicene Creed, we say that Christ is born of the Father before all ages. He is true God from true God, consubstantial with the Father. Our Founder, Jesus Christ, is Divine.
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But in the creed, we then speak of the other foundational mystery of the Faith: ‘For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became Man.’
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Here is the important mystery that we are preparing to celebrate this week, the Incarnation. Some say that God became ‘a man,’ or a ‘human being.’ But this is not such a good way of speaking; rather we say, that the Son of God ‘took humanity to himself;’ ‘he took on our flesh,’ or God ‘assumed human nature.’ We speak this way because God has united all of humanity to himself in the Person of Christ.
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Some say that the Son of God became a ‘human person,’ but this is incorrect. Jesus is a Divine Person, he is the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity, who always was and always will be.
Jesus has two natures: human and Divine, but he has one Person – he is not a split-personality. When St. Peter spoke to Christ, he was speaking to the one Person, Jesus. So we can really say, that St. Peter was speaking to God in the Flesh.
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The Holy Scriptures tell us: ‘Every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is of God.’ On the contrary, those who deny that Jesus has come in the flesh are of the anti-christ.[ii]
So belief in the Incarnation is the distinctive sign of the Christian Faith.[iii]
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On the stairs going up to the choir loft you will see there a large statue of St. Anthony of Padua. Almost every statue of St. Anthony shows him holding the Child Jesus, why?
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Well, once while traveling, Anthony stayed at a man’s house; during the night, the man heard voices coming from Anthony’s room, he got up, and saw a stream of brilliant light coming from under the door. In those days, there were only candles, no electricity, so what was the cause? He took a peek into the room. There he saw Anthony speaking in a familiar way with the Christ Child – the source of the brilliant light. And so this is the reason St. Anthony is often depicted holding the Infant Jesus.
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But notice in these statues, that the Infant is standing not firstly in the arms of St. Anthony, but on the Bible – almost as if he is stepping out of the page. Jesus is the Word, made flesh, and a favorite subject of St Anthony’s preaching was the Incarnation: God has become Man.
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So the Nativity of the Lord for which we are preparing – this is the great event of the Incarnation when God united his divine nature to human nature. The union in Christ of the divine nature with human nature is called the Hypostatic Union. This is the moment when God entered his own creation. St. John describes it at the beginning of his Gospel: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ So here he refers to Christ as the the eternal Word which proceeds from the Father. And then he says, ‘The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. And we saw his glory.’
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Why did God do this, taken on our human flesh? The catechism tells us:
460 [The Son of God] became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature. What’s that again? [The Son of God] became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature. This was God’s plan all along. He wants us to literally share in his own divine life.
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But can a finite being like ourselves be united to the Infinite God? Actually, yes.
Our nature is finite – we are created beings with limits;[iv] human nature could not be united with another finite nature, such as that of an angel; an angel exists in a definite way that excludes other ways of existing, including the human way. So a man could not become an angel without negating himself.
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But to be united to God, to divine nature, is simpler, because God is ‘being itself.’ His nature is not finite. The Holy Scriptures tell us that the Son of God became Man so that we might become sons of God: ‘To as many as received him, he gave the power of becoming sons of God, to those who believe in his name. John 1:12
The early fathers of the church never tired of saying: ‘God became man, that man might become God.’
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Father Goodier in his book on Jesus Christ – he tries to understand how is was that the apostles followed Jesus so quickly. It is because their Maker had come for them. Take the case of St. Philip meeting Christ.[v] Philip looks at Jesus; as their eyes met, they were the eyes of – his Creator. A friend meeting a friend. In only a glance, he shows that he knew Philip, and Jesus said follow me.  The same with Matthew the tax collector:[vi]  At the customs table, Matthew looks up at Jesus, his Creator, and at a glance they knew each other: ‘follow me!,’ he said.    And he left everything.
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Our Creator has joined himself to us in the Incarnation; our Maker seeks us, to bring us to himself. All he needs from us is Faith.
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When someone shows love for us, we instinctively respond with affection. In the Incarnation, our Creator has shown us this great love, So what is our response?
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St. Alphonsus asks, ‘Do you not desire God?[vii] If you do not desire God, then desire something better, go ahead, seek something better, find someone who is better qualified than God to make you happy. There is no one.
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Let us conclude today by going to the Blessed Virgin.
Mary, your Son who came down from heaven has shown his great love for us. As we prepare for his Nativity, help us to really love him in return; help us to have the grace of really loving God.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Alphonsus]

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[i] See Parochial Course of Instructions, Vol 1, p. 76

[ii] 1 John 4:3

[iii] Catechism, #463

[iv] This is explained in ‘Theology of the Mystical Body, by Mersch, p. 218.

[v] The Public LIfe of Jesus Christ, Goodier, vol 1, p. 41.

[vi] The Public LIfe of Jesus Christ, Goodier, vol 1, p. 184.

[vii] Incarnation, Birth, and Infancy of Jesus Christ, p. 29

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