A paradox is defined as “something that is contrary to expectations, incredible.” During Christmastime, the amazing paradox of Jesus Christ fills us with awe when we consider the Incarnation. That an all-powerful God might stoop to be born as a little child is almost beyond our comprehension. But Jesus offers this paradox to us so that we might, like the shepherds, approach Almighty God and love Him like a little baby.
A great blessing of the Catholic Church is our reverence for Mystery. The word “mystery comes from the Latin word, mysterium meaning, “secret rite, secret worship; a secret thing,” The Church teaches that Christ’s whole life is a mystery, while filled with many things that we can understand, there are many things that we can not understand fully. We are called to ponder on these mysteries and to seek to grow in understanding, making Jesus Christ “our model” (see CCC 512-560).
At this beautiful time of year, it is good to reflect on the mysteries of Christmas:
(CCC 525) Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest.203 The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night: (437; 2443)
The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal
And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.
The angels and shepherds praise him
And the magi advance with the star,
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God eternal!
(CCC 526) To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we must be “born from above” or “born of God.”206 Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”: (460)
O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.
“Christ-miss” in the Modern World
While the feast of “Christ’s-Mass” dates back to at least the 2nd Century, much of the modern world has lost sight of the mysterious and wonderful Advent of Christ. For many Christians, rather than renewal in Christ, Christmas is perhaps better described as “Christ-miss”. “Christ-miss” is celebrated with rampant consumerism, holiday gift-giving, family reunions, partying, vacations and perhaps even attending Christmas Mass, while “missing” the opportunity to renew their faith in Christ.
Like the slumbering world that missed Christ’s quiet birth in a Bethlehem stable 2000 years ago, many are sleeping during Advent, embracing “Christ-miss” rather than “Christ-Mass.” They miss the great miracle of Christ’s continued rule in the modern world; they miss the opportunity to draw closer to Christ and to experience His lasting peace and joy. Instead, in the deprived darkness of the modern secular “Christ-miss” world, people suffer in darkness, lost in the self-absorption of sinful addictions, lost in battles to promote sexual liberation, the killing of children and the control of the nation’s wealth, lost in transient relationships, broken marriages and the loneliness of going it alone.
The Advent of the Divine Child
Into this broken world, the Light of Christ continues to shine brilliantly during Advent. (more…)