The Incarnation

God could have abandoned us as an orphaned people. Our first parents transgressed his law and their descendants did little better. God had every right to hate us.  He chose to love us, instead. We were the ones who broke our friendship with God. We deserved what came to us, including the terrible prospect of hell.  But God was not done with us. He would seek to save that which was lost. It seemed as if the unmoved mover might actually move. The one but Trinitarian deity mercifully decided to intervene in human history by providing a Redeemer who could both pay the terrible price for sin and had the power to overcome its chief consequence which was death.

God the Second Person of the Trinity would become a man.  The all-powerful one would make himself weak and vulnerable so as to save us. He would suffer, not only as an individual within the human family, but as the new Adam who could make satisfaction for all the sins that we might ever commit.  As the innocent one, he would suffer to save the guilty. Human nature itself, damaged by sin, would be glorified by grace and divinized by the one who was the God-man. We would gain ever so much more than what was lost.  “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”

As a man the Lord could offer expiation for sin on our side of the equation. As God, he could give infinite value to his suffering and death. The ancient promise of redemption would be fulfilled. Divine providence selected a young maiden from the people that God had chosen for himself.  At the annunciation, she played the part of the new Eve by her consent as the handmaid of the Lord.  The Holy Spirit would overshadow her. She would conceive and bear a Son. The eternal Word would take human flesh, indeed as God he would be fully human— body and soul. The long Advent was over.  Christmas had come and rushed quickly to the first Lent and Easter.  Jesus was born to die. But he would not stay dead. Everything would change. Faith would be made efficacious with a generous share of hope. Who was this Jesus? He was Emmanuel or “God is with us.”  He was Messiah, Christ, Savior, Mediator, Redeemer and Lord.   

The Eternal Word never stopped being God.  Nothing was subtracted from his divine nature. He remained a divine Person. Rather, something was added— a complete human nature. He shared his human nature with us, minus the tendency to sin.

A number of the ancient Church fathers proposed that the prospect of the incarnation was what precipitated Satan’s fall from heaven. He refused to bend the knee or to pay homage to the Christ Child. Christ came into the world to undo what the devil had long ago set in motion. He would insert himself as a living bridge (pontifex) between humanity and almighty God. He would pay the ransom we could not pay. He would make himself into the means for our return to the Father. He would be the Way and the Truth and the Life. There was no other way to the Father except through the Son.

About Father Joe

Father Joe Jenkins I am the pastor of Holy Family Church and a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC.
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