The Incarnation: What It Means

The pink candle is lit. Christmas is coming. And the remembering/re-membering of this unparalleled and amazing event reminds us anew that God became man for us. He didn’t become less God, or un-God, nor a partial human, like some kind of centaur or faun. It does mean that Jesus Christ, in submission to the Father and through the movement of the Holy Spirit and the cooperation of the Virgin Mary, took on flesh becoming – inseparably – truly God and truly Man.

When Christ fully assumed human nature, he fully kept His divine nature intact as well. With His all-human nature, Christ the Son of God – eternally the Second Person of the Trinity – fully cooperated with the Trinitarian desires so that with His human will He humbly and joyfully obeyed the greater Holy will living within Him.

While His birth and His death profoundly testify to this fact, its reality was also lived out in all the beyond-ordinary moments in between. Consider how, with a beating human heart, Jesus chose to convey God’s merciful and therapeutic love to his family, neighbors, and friends; He also gave divine love to sinners, outcasts, foreigners, and Pharisees. With a beyond-wise human brain, Jesus learned to read the Torah in the temple, stymied God’s enemies with logic, and taught divine truths through tales of figs, pigs, and sheep. With rough but gentle human hands, Jesus patted his mother’s cheek, grew up in a carpenter’s workshop, touched lepers, broke His own body to share with us, and accepted the most-holy nails of atonement.

His perfectly divine and completely human nature should cause us all to exclaim with wonder, as we gaze at the manger and the cross, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” (John 4:29)

Understanding that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine is very important. It’s not easy, but it’s part of the greatest Christmas gift we can receive, because what the sacred mystery of God’s incarnation points to for us is a well-founded hope that conversely and through this inscrutable truth, someday (beginning now) we humans can become like Christ: both fully divine (cf. 2 Peter 1:4) and, ultimately, restored to our full humanity as well. That’s cause for rejoicing, indeed!

Your Pickle,

Marian Bart