Shock: God became Man

4th Sunday of Advent
Beloved in Jesus Christ,[i] 
back in the 4th century, there lived an old hermit named Abba Abraham; he was a man of prayer, living a simple life as a monk in the desert. Now it so happened that his brother died, leaving Abraham’s niece Maria, in need of care. He therefore arranged for her to live nearby him in her own little hut. To his delight, the girl embraced this simple life. She came to love prayer and the things of God.
.
Now there was a certain man who used to visit Abraham, pretending to want spiritual advice; but his heart became impassioned for Maria; for a full year he softened her up with his cunning words, until one day he seduced her and defiled her. Maria, who had tried to be a woman of prayer, was sickened at her sin, and wept day and night. Feeling hopeless, she fled to another city, and in desparation, began to live as a prostitute.
.
For years, Abraham never knew what had become of his niece; but one day, news was brought to him of her circumstance. Immediately, he called for a horse and asked for the clothes of a soldier, so that he might find her without being recognized. He put on the clothes and a large hat to hide his face. He wore this style of clothes, so that he might save his niece, and then he made haste for that city.
.
When he arrived at the brothel, he asked for her, and went to her room pretending to be a customer. He could hardly hold back the tears when he saw her dressed as a harlot. But sitting down on the bed, he revealed his identity; for the whole night, in tears and sobs, he taught her of the mercy of God; she brightened up, seeing that there really was hope of God’s forgiveness; then he said to her, ‘let us go out of here together,’ and they went home. Maria returned to her life of prayer, and God even gave her the gift of healing, such that many would go to her to be healed of their illness.
.
Friends in Christ, There are only 5 more days until Christmas, the event that changed the world. The Lord in heaven saw us as sinners, lost and hopeless; we, who have given ourselves over in harlotry to other gods and to our sins. But in order to save us, the Son of God dressed in our human nature and journeyed to a far land to live among sinners, in order to rescue us.
.
We can compare God’s action to that of Abrahm rescuing his niece, but the event of Christmas is much more profound even than that. St. Leo says that the Son of God could have sanctified us by his infinite power in some other way, but the Creator of the Universe deigned in his infinite goodness, to unite his divine nature to the nature of a servant and be born into time.
.
When I think of this – when we think of this – how overwhelming to see this love of our Creator for us. And this is what overwhelmed Mary, to whom came her Maker, to participate in human life. ‘How can this be?, she asks the angel.  And when she visited Elizabeth also, Elizabeth was overwhelmed with what God was doing.      ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb. ‘How can this happen,’ she said.
.
That the Creator would choose to do this – enter into our life, is an example of the humility of God, his lowering of himself down to us. St. Paul tells us: ‘[The Lord has] emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of men.’
.
So when people think, ‘God just doesn’t understand what I am going through,’ or when people distance themselves from God, who they think is Light-Years away in another universe – those who live a life of quiet desperation, alone and Godless – the truth is that this Creator of ours has taken a keen interest in the most intimate concerns of our heart.
.
‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.’ This is what St. Paul says. ‘Therefore he was made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful high priest, to make atonement for us.’
.
I was looking on-line recently, and I saw that once a British skeptic of the 19th century said, ‘three words should be carved over all church doors: ‘Important, if true.’
.
There are plenty of skeptics today, and people who have lost their faith –
They should be at least as honest as that British skeptic: ‘Important, if true.’ If God really has entered his own creation, taken on our life, and suffered and died for each person – this God, who knows and loves us; then the consequence is enormous: we have to give him our whole life. We owe him everything. There is no other adequate response.
.
The secular world wants to enjoy a happy holiday with all the lights and decorations and presents to brighten up winter. They want Christmas without Christ. But they refuse to face directly, the claim of the season. If this claim is false, then Christmas is not to be celebrated, but reviled. But if this claim is true, it means their life must completely change.
.
This claim: First, that the Son of God exists: the ‘Word,’ as we call him. ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’
And the second claim:  that this Son of God, the Word, actually entered our life, walked the earth, and dwells with us today. ‘The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.’
.
‘Important, if true.’
.
The lack of faith today leads to a morose languor, a depletion of joy hanging over our towns like a depressing smog. Let us then – let’s we ourselves marvel again at the feast that’s coming up: when the Son of God, seeing our poor lives left heaven and came in disguise among us, to rescue us; when he put on flesh to save us.
.
Mary, pray for us, that in this holy season our own lives may radiate an unshakable faith, a hope in the truth of Christmas; and bring the Light of hope to our world.
.
‘Important, if true.’
Yes. It is very important – because it is true.

.

[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Joseph]

.

[i] Harlots of the Desert, p. 97

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation