1 Christmas, December 30
This is the day that the Lord has made. It is also the day when most parochial clergy are on vacation and, presumably, attending the liturgy elsewhere. Attendance among the laity drops notably in most places too, giving this day its sad reputation as a Low Sunday. The few who are present, however, may relish a secret privilege, the opportunity to hear again a summation of the whole gospel in two very striking passages. We hear what Jesus Christ did and what he did for us. What did he do? He became what we are. What did he do for us? He made us what he is.
Listen. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God” (Gal. 4:4-7). God sent his Son to be born of a woman, to be what we are. Having been redeemed from sin and death, we are caught up in the new life of Christ and receive adoption as children. Jesus is the Son of God by nature; we are the children of God by adoption and grace. This is an important distinction. It should be stated, but not overstated. We are indeed children of God!
Listen again. “[T]o all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:12-14a). The Word of God, the second person of the Trinity, became what we are. He became the human being, the new Adam, a recapitulation and reformation of our contorted lives. He did this for us and made us children of God, born of God, born again from on high. As daughters and sons of God in Christ Jesus, we are members of his body, branches of the vine, and stones in one holy temple. Do you know what a privilege this is, what a joy, what a vocation, to be a child of God? If you know it, know it more deeply.
The following is a spiritual exercise. Being a child of God feels like this:
“What is this new mystery surrounding me? I am both small and great, both lowly and exalted, mortal and immortal, earthly and heavenly. I am to be buried with Christ and to rise again with him, to become a co-heir with him, a son of God, and indeed God himself.
“This is what the great mystery means for us; this is why God became man and became poor for our sake: it was to raise up our flesh, to recover the divine image, to re-create mankind, so that all of us might become one in Christ who perfectly became in us everything that he is himself” (Gregory Nazianzus, Oration 7).
We are cautioned, of course, not to think too highly of ourselves, not to ponder things that are too great for us. We are told to put on the mind of Christ who humbled himself. We are on earth, we are sinners, and we wait for the fulfillment of all things in Christ. And yet our waiting is a form of possessing. The grace in us is the grace of Almighty God, and God has deigned to make us his children.
Look it Up
Read John 1:12-13.
Think About It
God has decided.