Merry Christmas! Frohe Weihnachten! Buon Natale! Felicem diem Nativitatem!
On behalf of the Fathers of the Oratory and the Parish Staff, I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas! Furthermore, I pray that the newborn king brings many blessings and much peace to each of us in the new year to come. We can’t grasp the immense gift the Incarnation, that is, the assuming of flesh by God, is for us. In the 4th century, St. Athanasius declared boldly: “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” In the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas affirmed: “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.”
They did not mean this in the sense that we become our own gods. What they mean is that through Christ’s coming and assuming our human nature, He was offering to us a share in His divine nature. That we would become so intimately linked and connected to God, even beyond the fact that we were created in His image and likeness. This reality is brought out clearly within Mass as the water is blessed and mixed into the chalice during the offertory. The traditional prayer said during this act, which was modified to be just slightly shorter in the revised Mass, says: “O God, who, in creating human nature, didst wonderfully dignify it, and still more wonderfully restore it, grant that, by the Mystery of this water and wine, we may be made partakers of His divine nature, who vouchsafed to be made partaker of our human nature, even Jesus Christ our Lord, Thy Son, who with Thee, liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God: world without end. Amen.”
By His Incarnation, the Lord was already laying the groundwork for His Church. The mode by which we, through our baptism, are linked to God more intimately. As St. Paul teaches us, within the Church, we are all many parts, making up one body, with Christ as the head.
We celebrate at Christmas not only the gift the Lord Himself on that first Christmas over 2,000 years ago. We also celebrate the gift that He offered us through His nativity, the ability to elevate our human natures above this world, above our vices, above our old selves. We can then cleave so closely with God that he gives us a share in his Divine Nature.
May we give thanks to God for this gift because He offers it to us freely. We have done nothing to deserve this, but “God so loved the world that He gave to us His only son.” Therefore, the gift that we can offer to Him is to rid ourselves of our vices, our sins, and all those things that separate us from him. Every human being has some inclination toward something that offends God. But by His coming and His visitation with us, He shows us that we can make ourselves a more acceptable gift to the Father and work to perfect our natures and overcome its flaws.
This is my prayer for us in this upcoming year that we strive for the perfection of God so that we can each be made gods. May the Child of Bethlehem inspire us so, and may the Blessed Virgin Mary show us the way! Merry Christmas!