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The Gift of Gifts That Is Christmas

    On the Mystery of the Incarnation

    It's when we face for a moment
    the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
    the taint in our own selves, that awe
    cracks the mind's shell and enters the heart:
    not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
    to no innocent form
    but to this creature vainly sure
    it and no other is god-like, God
    (out of compassion for our ugly
    failure to evolve) entrusts,
    as guest, as brother,
    the Word.

    — Denise Levertov, The Stream and the Sapphire


Nassau Book of Hours, circa 1467-80, BrugesWhat a mystery the Incarnation offers us. We are so wonderfully loved that God longs never to be separated from us, in spite of the worst we can do – and too often choose to do. Unworthy though we are, yet God becomes one of us.

And so, because God becomes and remains human, “all theology,” as Karl Rahner says, “is eternally anthropology.” And a corollary to this is that we must not devalue ourselves or other people, because we “would then be thinking little of God” (Karl Rahner, Foundations of Christian Faith).

The incarnation also reveals to us our call and our hope as human beings. “By the mystery of this water and wine,” prays the priest during the Preparation of the Gifts at Mass, “may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

God becomes one of us, so that we “may become participants of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).  The gift of the Incarnation is the gift beyond all gifts.

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