CHRISTMAS DAY 2012 JOHN 1: 1-18 Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J. [Jesus shares His divine life with us.]
CHRISTMAS DAY 2012
JOHN 1: 1-18
Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
[Jesus shares His divine life with us.]
The appointed time has come; God sends a Son into the world (Gal. 4: 4). The central tenet of our Christian faith holds that Jesus Christ, the second person of the trinity, took on the nature of a human in order to share divine life with us.
This uncreated Creator takes the nature of created humanity and shares His divine life with us. Saint John begins his gospel with a solemn intonation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….The Word was made flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:18).
Jesus shows us divine life in its fullness. In the Old Testament God revealed wonderful aspects: power through creation: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1: 3); justice through punishment, as when God rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19: 24); mercy through saving acts as when parting the Red Sea for the escaping Israelites. But with the coming of Christ, we see the fullness of divinity manifest: “Of God’s fullness we have all received” (Jn. 1: 16). God’s fullness: all the wisdom, as in Christ’s teaching of the Beatitudes, and all the power as in Christ’s miracles of walking on water or of raising Lazarus to life from death, and all the love as in Christ’s embrace of redemptive lowliness as in washing his disciples’ feet, saying “Love one another as I have loved you.” Indeed, the godly is what we receive in Jesus Christ.
Jesus, by his example, teaches us His divine life. In Jesus there is life, not merely existence such as even rocks have, not merely life such as a fir tree or a donkey enjoy, and not just conscious life such as a human enjoys. Jesus lives life on the highest level, life conscious of self and of God, life such as you and I share when we are aware of ourselves and of God, a life that St. John terms “the light of men,” whereby we contemplate God’s nearness, and whereby we rejoice in speaking to God as Our Father.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” Jesus brings us the divine life of grace in teaching us to pray, to be caught up with fervor and excitement in prayerful communion. The Apostles ask Jesus, “Teach us to pray” (Mt. 6: 5-15) and Jesus teaches the Our Father prayer. Also, by his prayer as in the Garden of Olives, Jesus shows us Himself praying. In a video game, a player interacts with a car or some video character. In prayer we inter act with the divine life of God.
Jesus brings us the divine life of truth in teaching us of our triune God, a recognition and a knowledge that God is three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This day we celebrate Christ’s birth among us. The commemoration of Christmas annually recalls an historical event that occurred two millennia ago. The original birth of Christ will never repeat any more than our own birth could repeat.
Yet at this Christmas, today, Christ renews His divine life with us, with you and me. We almost sensibly perceive God’s grace at this season, God calling us to participate more intimately in divine life, God sharing with us a knowledge and love, a vision and a taste of Godliness, now, here, in this celebration of Christ’s birth. Like receiving a telephone call from a relative in New York, or Miami, or London, God contacts us to say, ‘I am alive, I am thinking of you, I am renewing my life with you.’
From time to time we recall our encounter with famous people. I recall one evening some years ago as dusk drew on in Rome during my days as a theology student. On the main street that ran along the building in which I lived, a limousine, lighted inside, passed next to the curb. Pope John XXIII looked at me and raised his hand in blessing. I was the only person on that empty street. I refer to it as my private audience with the Pope. That encounter I have not forgotten.
We might recall an encounter with a famous athlete or with an actress or president. An encounter with a famous person leaves an impress from that person. At Christmas we encounter Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and we renew the impress of His divine life in us.
The crib scene recreates that awe and humility that open us to Christ’s divine life. Such hymns as “Silent Night,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Angels We Have Heard On High”—these hymns awaken within us a sense of receiving the promised one of ages, His divine life. And reception of Christ in the Eucharist brings us to the highest point of divine life that God has established for us during our mortal sojourn.
We, therefore, on this Christmas appropriate in a higher degree what Christ first made available to humans in Bethlehem, life divine. We place ourselves among those who receive Christ, who believe in Christ’s name, people to whom he gives the power to become sons and daughters of God, born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of men, but born of God to divine life.
Let us this day joyfully celebrate Christ’s birth among us and Christ’s intense divine life in us. Jesus Christ brings us divine life, a sharing in the life of our triune God, a knowledge and recognition that God is three persons. Amen.