Christ is born! Glorify Him!
In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“For verily He took not on Himself the nature of angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.”
In short, beloved, God takes on the nature of man so that man might take on the nature of His divinity (2 Pe. 1:4). This is precisely the extent and the whole of our salvation in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man. Let us be clear here: the Incarnation has always been the divine intent and aim regardless of the Fall of Adam and Eve. More than a few of the Fathers assert this and say that the Incarnation was a forgone conclusion long before and not a rapidly developed emergency plan concocted by God Who had gotten caught off guard by the wily evil one. The Incarnation of God in the flesh of His creature, man, is nothing less than pure love, a deep yearning of the Holy One to be in communion with the one who bears His divine image and likeness. For, truly, there is no better way, no other way, for salvation to come to us sinners. As I have said before I will say again: God does not nor cannot attain this great salvation virtually! No Zoom salvation exists because no Zoom could do what has had to be accomplished in the flesh made divine by God’s assumption of it!
I believe this reality, this truth, is borne out by our virtual experiences of Church during this pandemic when I hear others say repeatedly, “It’s just not the same. It’s odd and artificial. I miss the contact.” And there it is – the Incarnation. If God finds it necessary to take on the flesh of the seed of Abraham in order to “destroy through death him [the evil one] that had the power of death,” why would it seem less than essential for the Church in whom and through whom our salvation is to be worked out by us (Pp. 2:12)? For in the Church, and nowhere else, we find and have access to the saving and sanctifying Mysteries of Jesus Christ. One of the Protestant reformers by the name of Zwingli has already amply shown us that virtual worship is no worship. For Zwingli and all those who are his heirs, whether Protestant or otherwise, the Church had symbols but no substance; forms that sparked our imagination but offered nothing substantial. Bread and wine are just that – bread and wine. We can imagine them to be Jesus’ Body and Blood, but it’s all virtual.
The Incarnation of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ says otherwise, “This is My Body. This is My Blood.” We’re not pretending or imagining. “’For My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed,’” says Jesus. If we eat and drink His Body and His Blood, His Eternal Life, which is to say, His divine nature, is truly in us by way of drinking His Blood and chewing on His Body (Jn. 6:52-58). This Mystery, this incarnational understanding, drove some who had been following Him up to that point away, because it was too real (Jn. 6:59-69).
But the Incarnation is very real to the touch, to the taste, to the smell, to the hearing, to the seeing. The Incarnation is a unique, one time event, to be sure, but its effects, its reality, remain ours today, 2,000 years later! The Church is the Body of Christ, not in a figurative sense, but in a real sense. It requires us to be physically present, to gather together. Here we touch the incarnate Lord and He touches us. We see Him, we smell Him, we taste Him, we hear Him. God becomes Man and bread becomes divine Flesh; wine becomes divine Blood. God condescends so that man the sinner might ascend. “God becomes man so that man might become god.” That’s what St. Athanasius the Great and St. Irenaeus, among a whole host of others, believed and taught us to believe as well because it’s the saving and sanctifying truth.
“For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of One,” says the Apostle,
for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, . . . Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself took part of the same, . . . For verily He took not on Himself the nature of angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Therefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
Christ is born! Glorify Him!