In a few days we celebrate Christmas, the Feast of the Incarnation. God takes on flesh, i.e., human nature. Technically, this act of joining divine nature to human nature is called the “hypostatic union”. God’s commitment to his creation, especially to the human race, is profoundly apparent in the Incarnation, because he permanently joins himself to us by taking on human nature. The Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, becomes man, sharing his Father’s passionate desire to save us through the instrument of his humanity. Without taking on human nature, becoming man, the Son of God could not have suffered, and we therefore could not have been saved by Suffering Love on Calvary. So you can see why the Feast of the Incarnation is so important to us.
The Feast of the Incarnation also explains why we understand all beauty in the world to be a reflection of the Son of God. Imagine you have a colossal, artistic sculpture apparently floating a few feet off the ground in some city park. You walk all around it, looking for the reason it can be floating as it is. Finally, behind one obscure curve in the sculpture you discover an almost-invisible metal ligament to the earth that indeed sustains the whole piece. The Incarnation of the Son of God is something like that: Jesus is the means by which all creation came to be and is kept in being. Consider passages such as Colossians 1:17, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together;” or Romans 11:36, “For from him and through him and to him are all things.” Some Fathers of the Church said that God created the world in the beginning (with His omniscient, eternal sight of things) with the Incarnate Son already in view.
Consider St. Augustine (Sermon 187) on God’s creating and His entering creation: He by whom all things were made was made one of all things. The Son of God by the Father without a mother became the Son of man by a mother without a father. The Word Who is God before all time became flesh at the appointed time. The maker of the sun was made under the sun. He Who fills the world lays in a manger, great in the form of God but tiny in the form of a servant; this was in such a way that neither was His greatness diminished by His tininess, nor was His tininess overcome by His greatness.
If the Son sustains the world, then you can understand why some Fathers of the Church (and indeed we ourselves) proclaim that the Eucharist sustains the world, even more than the physical sun. The Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” The Eucharist is the place where we continue to encounter the humanity of the Son of God, packed with transforming divine power.
A note of thanksgiving: the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12 was beautiful. Many thanks to those who put so much hard work into the music, the worship aids, the decorating and the traditional breakfast afterwards. I know that we had some guests in attendance had not been here before, even some who preferred Spanish to English.
I was happy to celebrate the feast in Spanish, because in fact my priesthood is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. If you ever visit Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Genoa, Ohio, where I celebrated my Mass of Thanksgiving after ordination to the priesthood, you will still find in the back of the church a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe with my prayer of dedication at her feet. This is because I had done so much work during my seminary years for the Hispanics in migrant camps. Also, during my last year as a deacon in seminary, I spent many hours each week working for the Hispanic community in Columbus, Ohio. In my last year of seminary I was also privileged to translate (with much help from the Spanish professor at the Josephinum) the keynote speech of Fr. Guerrero – postulator for the cause of sainthood for Juan Diego – when Fr. Guerrero attended an international symposium on Guadalupe sponsored by the Josephinum Seminary. With all of this, I considered it nothing less than a miracle of Our Lady that I survived my deacon year and arrived at ordination to the priesthood somewhat whole.
It is one of those ironies of the priestly assignment process that – although I had done so much work with Hispanics during seminary, and the church in the United States is always speaking about how much we have to reach out to the increasing number of Hispanics – I have never had a priesthood assignment where I used my Spanish much at all. I guess all of that is a long way of saying that I was very happy to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe for Her in Spanish. Many thanks, again, to all those who made the celebration beautiful.
An update on the representative from Sweetwater in Fort Wayne: He will be visiting our Payne and Paulding campuses on Saturday, January 31st to consult on improvements to our sound systems on these campuses.
Have a blessed Christmas!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,