Friday, December 23, 2011

The Incarnation is more than the Nativity

Over the last few days, I have seen more than a few blog posts preparing us for the celebration of Christmas. This really is wonderful because Christmas is one of the great Feasts of the Church which celebrates the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. It is a reminder to the world that God the Son emptied Himself to become a man; and that He humbled Himself to suffer the death of the Cross (Phil 2:7-8).

As I have been reading the various blogs, I have noticed an interesting pattern i.e. when thinking about the Incarnation, many Protestants tend to focus solely on the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, this is not altogether a bad thing because the Nativity is certainly one aspect (and an important one at that) of the Mystery of the Incarnation. But what I think our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ miss is that before He was born in the stable in Bethlehem, He had already been God-Incarnate for nine months in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is what we mean when we profess in the Nicene Creed that the Son of God was made incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary.

Because they miss this fact, Protestants sadly also miss the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ took His flesh from the Blessed Virgin. Why do they miss this vital point? I’m not completely sure, but I think one possible answer is that they are so averse to the Apostolic truth of the Catholic understanding of Mary that they go to the extreme of relegating Our Lady to nothing more than a surrogate mother.

In other words, many Protestants miss the full import of the Mystery of the Incarnation because their focus is limited to the Feast of Christmas, to the exclusion of the Feast of the Annunciation.

Without Mary’s Fiat (“Let it Be”) there would be no Incarnation. As Blessed Mother Teresa reminds us: “No Mary, no Jesus”.  This is why God, in His Wisdom, gave to the Church the Feasts of the Annunciation and Christmas – so that we could learn the full Mystery of the Incarnation. Before Jesus gave Himself on the Cross of Calvary, He gave Himself as a poor helpless babe in a manger. And before that, He was a poor helpless babe in the womb of His Mother. But even this does not go to the heart of the scandal of the Incarnation.

The true depth of the scandal of the Incarnation is not just that God humbled Himself to become man. And it is not even that He lay completely helpless in the womb of Holy Mary for nine months. Rather, the depth of the scandal lies in the fact that the salvation of the entire human race hung upon the thread of Mary’s “Yes” to God.

That’s right! Whether we accept it or not, our salvation relied on Mary’s act of faith and obedience. But there’s more! Now, as then, our salvation continues to be reliant on the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Incarnation bears testimony to this fact. Just as a baby unwittingly relies on his mother for life, protection, and sustenance; so our Lord relied completely upon the Virgin Mary. As true followers of the Lord Jesus, we too are often unaware of just how much we rely on Our Blessed Mother for the graces necessary to bring us to eternal life.

Just as Mary was responsible for training our Lord in the right way (Prov 22:6); as our Mother, she also teaches us what it means to remain faithful followers of our Lord. If we listen to the direction of Our Lady, we will find that her instructions are always the same – “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5).

Sacred Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). Logically, this means that if Christ came to the world through Mary, He will continue to come to the world through Mary. And on the flip side, if the world wants to come to Christ, it must also do so through Mary.  

Acknowledging this truth, may we confidently ask Mary to lead us to Jesus just as the Magi did; so that like the Magi we too can present ourselves as gifts of tribute to Him who is eternally King of Kings.

And finally, as we celebrate Christmas giving thanks to God for His great gift of grace, let us also remember to give thanks for His great gift of Mary “full of grace”.

May God richly bless you and yours this Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. Amen!
    Thank you for all you wonderful and encouraging posts/blogs this year. Keep going!
    God bless