|In the case of the virgin birth the power of the Highest wasimplanted immaterially in the undefiled body and took the Virgin's purity as the material for the flesh, employing it as thecontribution of the virgin body towards the formation of one who was in truth a new Man...created after the likeness of God, not in
the fashion of man.- Gregory of Nyssa -
(What does the Incarnation mean to you? What do you celebrate this day?)
Is 62:11-12; Ps 97:1, 6, 11-12; Titus 3:4-7; Lk 2:15-20
R. A light will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us.
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many islands be glad.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
Light dawns for the just;
and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Be glad in the LORD, you just,
and give thanks to his holy name.
God wants to fill our hearts anew with joy and gratitude for the greatest gift he could possibly give us - his beloved son Jesus. What can we give thanks for in this great feast of the Incarnation? We can praise and thank God our Father for the fact that the Son of God freely and joyfully assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. Jesus came to release the captives from slavery to sin and to open the gates of paradise once again. This day the Holy Spirit invites us to make haste - as the shepherds of Bethlem did - to adore Jesus our King and Messiah. The Lord Jesus Christ is our eternal good shepherd who guides and cares for us unceasingly and who gives us abundant everlasting life and union with the triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This day the whole community of heaven joins with all believers of good will on earth in a jubilant song of praise for the good news proclaimed by the angels on Christmas eve:
Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people, for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10-11).
The joy of Christmas is not for a day or a season. It is an eternal joy, a joy that no one can take from us because it is the joy of Jesus Christ himself made present in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (see Romans 5:2-5). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which no pain nor sorrow can diminish, and which neither life nor death can take away. Do you know the joy of your salvation in Jesus Christ?
"Lord our God, with the birth of your Son, your glory breaks on the world. As we celebrate his first coming, give us a foretaste of the joy that you will grant us when the fulness of his glory has filled the earth."
The Way of Perfection, by Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
(Continues the same subject and shows how much greater are the trials of contemplatives than those of actives. This chapter offers great consolation to actives.)
Go cheerfully about whatever services you are ordered to do, as I have said; if such a servant is truly humble she will be blessed in her active life and will never make any complaint save of herself. I would much rather be like her than like some contemplatives. Leave others to wage their own conflicts, which are not light ones. The standard-bearer is not a combatant, yet none the less he is exposed to great danger, and, inwardly, must suffer more than anyone, for he cannot defend himself, as he is carrying the standard, which he must not allow to leave his hands, even if he is cut to pieces. Just so contemplatives have to bear aloft the standard of humility and must suffer all the blows which are aimed at them without striking any themselves. Their duty is to suffer as Christ did, to raise the Cross on high, not to allow it to leave their hands, whatever the perils in which they find themselves, and not to let themselves be found backward in suffering. It is for this reason that they are given such an honourable duty. Let the contemplative consider what he is doing; for, if he lets the standard fall, the battle will be lost. Great harm, I think, is done to those who are not so far advanced if those whom they consider as captains and friends of God let them see them acting in a way unbefitting to their office.
- Chapter 18
(Keep in mind that she is writing to sisters in a cloistered contemplative order.)
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