THE INCARNATION: AUTO-REVELATION OF GOD
HOMILY FOR THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD (CHRISTMAS DAY), YEAR A/B/C. Readings: Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrew 1:1-6 and John 1:1-18.
No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known (Jn 1:18).
Today we celebrate the Word of God that became flesh and dwells among us, otherwise known as the incarnation. It is the birth of Jesus Christ; it is Christmas day. In Jesus Christ God reveals His identity. He uncovers what has been hidden for ages and has made Himself known to us. The birth of Christ brings to mind the famous hymn, “Great things happen when God mixes with us…”
“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son…” It is an extract from the second reading of today, taken from the letter to the Hebrews 1:1. God’s revelation to man has been in stages, from the creation story to our father in faith: Abraham, to Moses his servant, to the prophet Elijah on mount Horeb and others of his servants and prophets. In Jesus Christ, we have the climax or fullness of God’s revelation to humanity. Everything spoken by the laws and the prophets is seen in Jesus Christ.
It is on this note that Isaiah in the first reading prophesies of the beautiful feet of those who bring the Gospel. He said, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings …” The ‘feet’ speaks of activity, motion and progress. It gives a revelation of God from the creation story, the fall of man and various ways God made to redeem man. Those who are active and moving in the work of preaching the gospel have these beautiful feet. The good tidings or good news is that “For us a child is born, to us a Son is given” (Is 9:6). For those who sit in darkness, light has shone. This light brings healing to the sick and broken hearted, joy to the sorrowful, happiness to the sad, salvation to sinners. In view of this that the psalmist said, “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”
In the Gospel, we have the prologue of John that helps us to unveil the identity of Jesus Christ. In this prologue he said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The ‘Word’ from the Greek word ‘Logos’ has deep meaning in John’s Gospel. It is the summary of the Gospel of John as it speaks of the pre-existence of the Word. The beginning refer to the timeless eternity of Gen 1:19 (In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth). When the beginning began, the Word was already there. The Word was in the beginning before anything was. That is, the Word existed before creation or even time. Invariably, the Word is no other than God the self-existence, who has no beginning nor end.
With the first chapter and first verse of John’s Gospel, he sets the most foundation of our faith, which is the Trinity. Logically he is saying: there is a Being known as God. This Being is God, because he is eternal and He is plainly called God (the Word was God). At the same time, this Being does not encompass all that God is. God the Father is distinct from the Word (the Word was with God). So the Father and the Son are equally God, yet distinct in their Person. The Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father. Yet they are equally God, with God the Holy Spirit making one God in three Persons.
The Gospel further speaks of the Word through which all things were made: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The Word, which is God took flesh from the Blessed Virgin Mary and became Man. The womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary becomes the dwelling place or house of God; it is the living tabernacle. God now mixes with us; He is not far from us. He has come close to us in Jesus Christ; we do not have to struggle to find Him. We have God in the Eucharist, we have Him in the tabernacle. Each time we receive Christ through either the Gospel or the Sacraments, He is born into our hearts and we become living tabernacles. Put differently, Christ is incarnated in us.
Dear friends in Christ, a son has been given to us, the most precious gift of God to man. He gave us because He so loved us (John 3:16). We are called to give ourselves in humility, sacrifice, love and peace to others. By so doing, the Word of God takes flesh and dwells among us.
Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year in Advance!
Fr. Ken Dogbo, OSJ