Saturday, December 24, 2011

For Your Sake God Has Become Man

The Office of Readings for Christmas Eve features a selection from a sermon by Saint Augustine. Here are the first two paragraphs:

Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.

You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened ‘to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

How fortunate we are that God did not leave us to our fallen fate! But clearly, it seems to me, the belief in this truth has vast implications for our whole outlook on life. What would be the implications of being consigned by Original Sin to our sinful flesh without redemption? As Christians, our relationship with God is radically different from those who do not accept the divinity of Christ and his redeeming sacrifice. I'm thinking primarily of Jews and Moslems, who, like Christians, believe in the one God.

At Christmas time, we celebrate the fact that the Son of God took on a human nature and entered the world as one of us so that we might receive the sanctifying grace lost by our first parents. He entered the world as a helpless infant, just as any other man would. On this blessed Christmas Day, let us celebrate our common humanity with Christ and all of God's children.

Merry Christmas!

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