Sense of Life. Articles in English. The Joy of Christmas.
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The Joy of Christmas

Invisible God, the Creator of the Universe, has become a true man to free us from the captivity of Satan, sin and death, and to reveal the whole truth about himself.

The Joy of Christmas

“We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem at the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar Augustus, a carpenter by trade, who died crucified in Jerusalem under the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of the emperor Tiberius, is the eternal Son of God made man. He ‘came from God’ (John 13:3), ‘descended from heaven’ (John 3:13; 6:33), and ‘came in the flesh’ (1 John 4:2)” (CCC 423).

A historical fact

The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is a historical fact, as is his life, death on the cross and Resurrection. It is worth remembering that the existence of Jesus was recorded in pagan historiography in Jewish Antiquities by the Roman historian Flavius Josephus (93–94 AD), as well as in Tacitus’ Annals (115–120 AD) and writings by Suetonius (121 AD) and Pliny the Younger, imperial governor of Bithynia (111–113 AD).

However, the full truth about Jesus Christ was transmitted to us in the books of the New Testament which were written when the direct witnesses of Christ’s life, death and Resurrection were still alive. Besides being a credible historical record, they are invaluable documents of faith.

If therefore anybody questions the historical existence of Jesus, such a person gives witness to his total ignorance or enslavement by ideological prejudice.

The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is a historical fact, as is his life, death on the cross and Resurrection

True God and true man

“He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man” (CCC 464).

Through his teaching, miracles and above all through his Resurrection, Jesus Christ has unequivocally revealed to us that as a true man, he is true God, the Son co-existent with the Father, “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). He has revealed to us that there is one God, but in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). He stressed that he who believes in him, believes in God; he who sees Jesus,sees God (John 12:44–45). Whoever receives Jesus, receives God (Mark 9:37). And in turn, he who hates Jesus hates God (John 15:23), while he who honours Jesus, honours God (John 5:23).

Jesus behaved and taught as the one who has the power and authority of God (cf. Mark 1:22). He clearly intimated to his listeners that he was God. He forgave sins (cf. Mark 2:6) and said that he was Lord of the Sabbath (cf. Matt. 12:8), so he ascribed to himself the attributes of God. Scribes immediately reacted, trying to kill him “because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). They told Jesus: “We stone you for no good work but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God” (John 10:33). When Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58), he explicitly asserted that he was God by referring to himself by the name of God Yahweh – “I AM”. That is why they wanted to stone him immediately (John 8:59).

For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man

When Jesus was captured and brought before the Sanhedrin, the high priest posed the question:

“’I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so’” (Matt. 26:63–64; cf. Mark 14:62; Luke 22:70). To the members of the Sanhedrin, this answer was an outright blasphemy, because Jesus confessed that he was God. That is why they sentenced him to be crucified (Mark 14:64).

He became truly man while remaining truly God

Through his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ ultimately confirmed the truth that he was the true God, our only Saviour.

“He appeared to take away sins” (1 John 3:5)

God whom “no one has ever seen” (John 1:18) has become a true man in order to save us, to vanquish death and to free us from the captivity of sin and Satan. “Jesus” in Hebrew means “God saves”.

On this Holy Night, adoration of the Child Jesus becomes Eucharistic adoration

It is shocking to realise to what degree God has loved us! Having become a true man, he entered the human reality of sin and death to the full. Jesus Christ, the Son co-existent with the Father, has borne “our griefs”, “carried our sorrows”, “was wounded for our transgressions” and “was bruised for our iniquities” (cf. Isa 53:4–6). He took upon himself the consequences of all the sins of men, and that is why he, the true God, in his true humanity, suffered terribly and underwent human death. Rising from the dead, he vanquished death, and he forgave all sins to offer every man a chance of salvation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reads: “The Word became flesh to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (2 Pet 1:4): ‘For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.’ ‘For the Son of God became man so that we might become God’” (CCC 460).

The answers to the questions about the ultimate sense of human life, suffering and death are provided only by Jesus Christ. It is only He who “fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. […] For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man” (Gaudium et spes, 22). Therefore, every man from the moment of his conception has infinite dignity and value, as well as the right to live and enjoy freedom of conscience. No parliament or any democratic majority can ever question these rights. Abortion is thus always an abhorrent crime, “the deliberate and direct killing, […], of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence,” as St John Paul II wrote (Evangelium vitae, 58). The pope stressed that: “Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimise. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection” (Evangelium vitae, 73).

Our human life, marked by suffering and death, has sense only when we believe Christ and cling to him. Conversely, the greatest misery of man is persisting in sin, refusing to mend one’s ways, ignoring and rejecting Christ who lives and acts in the Catholic Church. Jesus says that every man who believes and accepts his love “will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

God in his infinite mercy comes to us as a true man to lead everyone to heaven. The mystery and joy of Christmas can be shared by us only if we come to hate sin and let Christ “be formed” in us (Gal 4:19), free us from the captivity of sins in the sacrament of penance, heal all the wounds of our heart and make us partake in his divine nature through persistent daily prayer and the Eucharist.

On 24 December 2004, during the last Midnight Mass before he died, St John Paul II said: “On this Holy Night, adoration of the Child Jesus becomes Eucharistic adoration. We adore you, Lord, truly present in the Sacrament of the Altar, the living Bread which gives life to humanity. We acknowledge you as our one God, a little Child lying helpless in the manger! ‘In the fullness of time, you became a man among men, to unite the end to the beginning, that is, man to God’ (cf. Saint Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, IV, 20, 4).You are born on this Night, our divine Redeemer, and, in our journey along the paths of time, you become for us the food of eternal life. Look upon us, eternal Son of God, who took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary! All humanity, with its burden of trials and troubles, stands in need of you. Stay with us, living Bread which came down from heaven for our salvation! Stay with us forever! Amen!”


The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!" in September 2020.

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