Pope Benedict XVI Proclaims: He Has Become Like Us so that We Can Become Like Him
God becoming a man like us, shows us the unprecedented realism of Divine love.
God took on the human condition to heal it of all that separates us from Him, so that we can call Him, in his only begotten Son, by the name of "Abba, Father" and truly be his children. St. Irenaeus says, "This is why the Word became man, and the Son of God, Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God"
Pope comes to speak at his Wednesday Audience
VATICAN CITY (Vatican Radio) Following Christ's example, we have to learn to give ourselves completely. Anything else is not enough. This was Pope Benedict XVI's tweet sent out to his followers Wednesday summarizing the general audience.
"In the Child of Bethlehem, God gives us the greatest gift possible, the gift of himself" and today we need to rediscover the "wonder" and "all-enveloping magnitude of this event", because through the Incarnation God has revealed mankind's "sublime dignity". Below please find a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father's audience text.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this Christmas season we focus once again on the great mystery of God who came down from Heaven to take on our flesh. In Jesus, God became incarnate, He became man like us, and in doing so opened the door to heaven to us, to full communion with Him.
In these days, the word "incarnation" of God rang out several times in our churches, to express the reality we celebrate at Christmas: The Son of God became man, as we say in the Creed. What does this word, central to the Christian faith, mean? It is derived from the Latin "incarnatio."
St. Ignatius of Antioch, and especially Saint Irenaeus have used this term reflecting on the Prologue of the Gospel of St. John, in particular on the expression "The Word became flesh" (Jn 1:14). Here the word "flesh", according to Hebrew tradition, refers to the person as a whole, under the aspect of his transience and temporality, his poverty and contingency. This is to say that the salvation wrought by God made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth touches man in his concrete reality and in every situation.
God took on the human condition to heal it of all that separates us from Him, so that we can call Him, in his only begotten Son, by the name of "Abba, Father" and truly be his children. St. Irenaeus says, "This is why the Word became man, and the Son of God, Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God" (Adversus haereses, 3,19,1: PG 7.939; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 460).
"The Word became flesh" is one of those truths we have become so used to that the greatness of the vent it expresses hardly affects us any more. And indeed, in this Christmas season, in which the expression returns often in the liturgy, at times we are more concerned with outward appearances, the "colors" of the festivity, than what is at the heart of the great novelty that Christians celebrate, something absolutely unthinkable, that only God could operate and we can only enter with faith.
The Logos which is with God, the Logos who is God (cf. Jn 1:1), through which they were created all things were created (cf. 1.3), which accompanied mankind with his light throughout history (cf. 1 0.4 to 5, 1.9), became flesh and made his dwelling place among us, became one of us (cf. 1:14). The Second Vatican Council says:
"The Son of God ... worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin"(Gaudium et Spes, 22). It is important therefore, that we recover our wonder before this mystery, allow ourselves to be enveloped by the magnitude of this event: God walked our streets as man, he entered into the time of man, to communicate His life to us (cf. 1 Jn 1:1 - 4). And He did this not with the splendour of a sovereign, who subjugates the world with his power, but with the humility of a child.
A second element should also be underlined. At Christmas we usually exchange gifts with the people closest to us. Sometimes it may be an act done out of convention, but it generally expresses affection; it is a sign of love and esteem. In the prayer over the gifts at Christmas Mass we prayed: "Accept, O Lord, our offering in this night of light, and for this mysterious exchange of gifts transform us in Christ, your Son, who raised man next to you in glory".
The idea of giving is at the heart of the liturgy and brings to our consciousness the original gift of Christmas: on that Holy night God, becoming flesh, wanted to become a gift for men, He gave a little of himself to us, took on our humanity to gift us His divinity. This is the great gift. Even in our giving is not important whether a gift is expensive or not; those who cannot afford to give a little of themselves, always give too little, indeed, sometimes they try to replace the heart and the meaning of giving with money or material things.
The mystery of the Incarnation shows us that God did not do this: He did not give something; He gave himself in His only-begotten Son. Here we find the model for our giving, so that our relationships, especially the most important ones, are driven by generosity and love.
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