Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
During this month of December, the month dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and the Infancy of Jesus, let us pray for the grace our hearts need to be prepared for the gifts of Grace our Lord wills to give each of us! This Sunday we celebrate the 3rd Sunday of Advent - Gaudete Sunday. I share with you a reflection on ‘Who’ Jesus is for us! I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week:
"'Who' Jesus Is - Jesus, the Only-Begotten Son of the Father: You are My Son: today I have begotten You (Ps. 2:1), we read in the En-trance Antiphon for Christmas Midnight Holy Mass, words from the second Psalm. The advent 'today' speaks of eternity, the 'today' of the Blessed and Glorious Trinity. (St. John Paul II, General Audience, 16 October 1985)
During His public life Jesus frequently spoke of the Fatherhood of God in relation to men, using the numerous expressions found in the Old Testament. However, for Jesus, God is not merely 'the Father of Israel, the Father of mankind', but 'My Father'! 'My’: precisely because of this the Jews wished to kill Jesus, for 'He called God His Father' (John 5:18). 'His' in a very literal sense: He Whom only the Son knows as Father and by Whom alone He is reciprocally known... 'My Father' is the Father of Jesus Christ: the origin of His being, of His messianic mission, of His teaching. (ibid., 23 October 1985)
When, in the district of Caesarea Philippi, Simon Peter confesses: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus answers, Blessed are you...for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but My Father… (Matt. 16:16-17) for no one knows the Son except the Father just as no one knows the Father except the Son. (Matt. 11:27) Only the Son can make the Father known: the visible Son enables us to see the invisible Father. He who has seen Me has seen the Father. (John 14:9)
The Baby Who will be born in Bethlehem is the only-begotten Son of God, consubstantial with the Father, eternal, having His own Divine Nature and also the human nature which He has assumed in Mary's virginal Womb. When we look at Him this Christmas and see Him helpless in the arms of His Mother, we must not forget that this is God, made Man for love of us, every single one of us.
During these days when we read with profound wonder the words of the Gospel - and dwelt among us, or when we say the Angelus, we shall have a good opportunity for making a deep and grateful act of Faith, and for adoring the sacred Humanity of Our Lord.
Perfect God and perfect Man. He became a Child so that we could go to Him without fear. Special relationships with Jesus: Jesus came to us from the Father, but He was born for us of a woman: when the time had fully come God sent forth His Son, born of woman (Gal. 4:4), says St. Paul. The prophets announce that the Messiah will come down from Heaven like rain and grow from the earth like a seed. (Is. 44:8) He will be mighty God and, at the same time, a Child, a Son. (Is. 9:6) I am from above (John 8:23), Jesus says of Himself; at the same time He is born from the seed of David (Rom. 1:4): there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots. (Is. 11:1) He will be born on earth, on this earth of ours.
In the Gospel for the Holy Mass of Christmas Eve we read the human genealogy of Jesus. (Matt. 1:1-25) The Holy Spirit wants to show us how the Messiah is related to one family and one people, and through them to the whole of humanity. In her womb, Mary shared her own blood with Jesus, the blood of Adam, of Phares, of Solomon.
The Word of God became flesh and dwelt amongst us (John 1:14); He became man, but that does not mean that He stopped being God. Jesus Christ is perfect Man and perfect God.
When, after His Resurrection, Our Lord miraculously entered through closed doors and appeared so inexplicably, a disciple might have thought that Jesus was a kind of spirit, so He Himself dispelled such doubts forever. He said to them: Handle Me and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have. (Luke 24:39) And then they gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate before them. John was there and, as on so many other occasions, saw Him eat. After that he could never lose his overwhelming certainty of that Flesh, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands. (1 John 1:1)
God became man in Mary's Womb. He did not suddenly appear on earth like a heavenly vision, but became a real man like us, taking our human nature in the pure Womb of a woman. In this way His eternal generation (His Divinity, the pre-existence of the Word) is distinguished from His birth in time. Jesus in His Divinity is mysteriously begotten, not made, by the Father through all eternity. In His humanity, however, He was born, 'was made' from the Blessed Virgin Mary at one definite moment in human history. Because of this, the Blessed Virgin, being the Mother of Jesus Christ, Who is God, is truly the Mother of God, as the Council of Ephesus defined as a Dog-ma of the Faith. (Dz-Sch, 252)
We look at the Baby Who will be born in a few days in Bethlehem of Judaea, and we know very well that He is the key, the center and the purpose of the whole of man's history. (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 10) On this Child depends our whole existence, on earth and in Heaven. And He wants us to treat Him with friendship and complete confidence. He became so small in order that we should not be afraid to come close to Him.
The most holy Humanity of Our Lord is the way to the Trinity. Imitating Jesus. Getting to know Him better by reading the Gospels. Meditating on His life: God the Father predestined humanity to be conformed to the Image of His Son, in order that He might be the first-born among many brethren. (Rom. 8:29) Our life has to be a continual imitation of His life here on earth. He is our Model for all the virtues and our relationship with Him is different from that which we have with the other two Persons of the Blessed Trinity. The grace bestowed upon man through the Sacraments is not merely 'the Grace of God', (like that which filled the soul of Adam before the Fall) but, in a true and accurate sense, 'the Grace of Christ'.
Christ was a real man, an individual man, with His own family and His own country, with His own customs, with His own trials and personal preferences; one specific individual, this Jesus. (Acts 2:32) But at the same time, because of the supremacy of His Divine Per-son, He could and can receive into Himself everything which is truly human, everything which properly belongs to human nature. We cannot experience a single good thought or feeling, which He cannot make His own, nor is there any thought or feeling of His which we ought not to do our best to make ours. Jesus has a deep love for all that is truly human - work, friendship, the family - and above all for men, with their defects and miseries. His most holy Humanity is our way to the Trinity.
By His example Jesus teaches us how we must serve and help the people around us: I have given you an example, He tells us, that you also should do as I have done to you. (John 13:15) Charity is to love - as I have loved you. (John 13:34) Walk in love, as Christ loved us (Eph. 5:1), says St. Paul. And when he wanted to exhort the first Christians to charity and humility he said simply: Have this mind among yourselves which was in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 2:5)
We must take Christ as our Model in the way we practice the virtues, the way we treat other people, the way we do our work, in everything. To imitate Him is to be filled with a Spirit and a way of reacting which ought to direct the life of every Christian, whatever his qualities, his state in life, or his place in society.
To imitate Our Lord, really to be His disciples, we must see ourselves in Him. It's not enough to have a general idea of the Spirit of Jesus; we have to learn the details of His life and, through them, His attitudes. Especially must we contemplate His life, to derive from it strength, light, serenity and peace.
When you love someone, you want to know all about his life and character, so as to become like him. That is why we have to meditate on the life of Jesus, from His Birth in a stable right up to His Death and Resurrection. (J. Escriva, Christ is Passing By, 107) Only in this way will our mind and our heart draw nearer to Christ.
During these days it will be easy for us, by reading and meditating on the Gospel, to contemplate the baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph in the manger at Bethlehem. We will learn important lessons about detachment, humility and concern for other people. The shepherds will teach us the joy of finding God, and the wise men how we must adore Him; we will feel that we have been given a new strength to persevere in the following of our way.
If we make a habit of attentively reading and mediating on the Holy Gospel every day we shall, in a sense, take part in the life of Christ; we shall get to know Him better every day; and, perhaps without our realizing it, our life in the world will come to be a reflection of His." (From In Conversation with God, by Francis Fernandez)
Through the intercession of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph, St. Michael, St. Paul, and all the Holy Angels, may God grant us the grace to prepare our hearts for the coming of our Lord at Christmas!
In Christ through Mary,