Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ—25 December A.D. 2011

On the Christmas Story

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

“When the fullness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law:
That he might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons.”[1]

    In modern times we have seen the effort made obscure the celebration of Christmas.  The public schools take “winter holidays,” and the students give concerts with songs that have been carefully collected or modified so that they make no reference to the birth of Jesus Christ.  The White House has a donated Christmas tree, but the official “holiday card” shows nothing more related to Christmas than the family dog in front of a roaring fireplace.  There is no tree on the card, and the message inside says no more than: “From our family to yours, may your holidays shine with the light of the season.”[2]  CNS reports that the Capital Christmas tree “includes a prominently displayed ornament paying homage to ... Obama, but includes no ornament readily visible ... that uses the word “Christmas,” or includes an image of the Nativity, or bears the name or image of Jesus Christ.”[3]

    Actually, this lack of reverence has been developing for a long time.  No one in this church is old enough to remember a time before Christmas had been turned over to elves, and reindeer, and a jolly Santa Claus, with virtually no resemblance to the Catholic bishop, Saint Nicholas of Myra, upon whom the red suited character is actually based.

    So, let me briefly review the Christmas story as it should be told.

    The story actually begins in eternity, before anything had been created—for from eternity God existed, and He existed in Trinity.  Before the creation of space and time, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost existed as three Persons in one God.  Long before the events of Christmas day, the Son (known as the “Word” or “Λόγος”) participated with the Father in the act of creation.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... All things were made by Him: and without Him was made nothing that was made.”[4]  Long before Christmas day, God knew that mankind would fall, and that the Second Person would become man for its redemption.

    Human knowledge of this divine plan begins in what we call the “proto‑Gospel,” in the book of Genesis where God promised the fallen Adam and Eve that one day He would grant the world a woman “at enmities” with the devil, and that her Seed would figuratively “crush the head” of the devil portrayed as a serpent.[5]  “Enmities” is an interesting word for it denotes the mutual hatred of polar opposites for one another—that as the devil is the personification of evil, Mary would be completely and utterly good—a good biblical reason for believing in her Immaculate Conception.

    In the Old Testament, particularly in the book of Isaias the Prophet, the Jewish people were told many things about the Seed of the Woman, including the fact that “a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, ‘God with us.’”[6]

    And then, when the time was right—when the world had been strung loosely together by the Roman Empire, the world’s savior, the Word, “was made flesh by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, AND WAS MADE MAN.”[7]  Pope Leo the Great, in one of his Christmas sermons, explains the incarnation and birth of Christ quite precisely:

    This wondrous delivery of the Holy Virgin brought forth as off­spring one Person, Who was both truly human and truly divine, since either nature did not so retain its separate being that there is in Him a distinction of persons. Neither was the created being so joined with its Creator that the creature became a dwelling, and He the dweller there. And though one is the nature that is received, and another that which receives, yet the diversity of each is united in such unity, that one and the same is the Son Who declares that, as true man, He is less than the Father (John XIV:28), and as true God, He is equal to the Father (John X:30).[8]

    This union of God and man, which we call the “hypostatic union,” is a true union.  From the time of the incarnation the Second Person possessed the fullness of divine and human natures.  This was not some sort of parasitical or symbiotic relationship between two beings—Jesus Christ is simultaneously both true God and true man—and quite rightly, in created time, Mary is the Mother of both God and man.

    God became man according to the promise in Genesis, because fallen mankind had nothing of value to offer God in reparation for the insult offered Him by the disobedience of the sin of Adam.  In obedience to the will of God, revealed through the Archangel Gabriel, the Virgin consented to being the woman promised by God in Genesis—“be it done to me according to thy word.”[9]  In Jesus Christ, as victim and priest, man would offer God the precious gift of His own Son, in perfect obedience to the divine will of the Father.

    It is this redemption of mankind that is the cause of the joy of Christmas.  Far more than elves and reindeer, more than dogs and fireplaces, the birth of Jesus Christ the Savior of mankind, to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    As Pope Saint Leo said it:

    It would be unlawful to be sad today, for today is Life’s Birthday the Birthday of that Life, Which, for us dying creatures, takes away the sting of death, and brings the bright promise of the eternal gladness hereafter. It would be unlawful for any man to refuse to partake in our rejoicing. All men have an equal share in the great cause of our joy, for, since our Lord, Who is the destroyer of sin and of death, found that all are bound under the condemnation, He is come to make all free. ● Rejoice, O thou that art holy, thou drawest nearer to thy crown! ● Rejoice, O thou that art sinful, thy Saviour offereth thee pardon! ● Rejoice also, O thou Gentile, God calleth thee to life!
For the Son of God, when the fullness of the time was come, which had been fixed by the unsearchable counsel of God, took upon Him the nature of man, that He might reconcile that nature to Him Who made it, and so the devil, the inventor of death, is met and beaten in that very flesh which hath been the field of his victory.

    God bless us, each and all, for today we rejoice that His only Son has redeemed us, so that we each may become His adopted brothers and sisters, the adopted sons of daughters of God the Father!


[7]   Nicene Creed:  Et incarnatus est de Spíritu Sancto ex María vírgine: ET HOMO FACTUS EST.

[8]   Pope Saint Leo I, Homily #3 on the Lord’s Nativity

[10]   Pope Saint Leo I, Sermon #1 on the Lord’s Nativity

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