|by Angela Lambert|
November 29th, 2015; 1st Sunday in Advent
Gospel Luke 21:25-28, 34-36 NAB
Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand. “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Today marks the first Sunday of Advent, a word which means “coming” and marks a time of preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas. As quaint and humble as Christ’s appearance on earth as a baby in a manger is, it has had world-changing and life-changing effects. The incarnation of Christ stands as the axis of history. When God became man, He raised the dignity of human nature higher than that of the angels. No other creature shares such intimacy with God. Moreover, when the Second Person of the Trinity united our human nature with His divine nature (also called the hypostatic union) He transformed and renewed humanity.
The Western value of the intrinsic dignity of the human person stems from this Christian principle. The early Christians sensed the significance of this and translated it into their view of the human person even in the womb. In the Didache, one of the first “catechisms” or statements of faith possibly dating before A.D. 100, it is written: “you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten.” Contrary to the Roman practice of infanticide, Christians believed that every stage of human life was sacred, including that of the child in the womb, because it experienced union with Christ who took up our humanity at the moment of conception in Mary’s womb. Because of this, human value does not have to be subject to utilitarianism or how useful one is to society. Rather, every human has inherent and inalienable value because it enjoys the dignity of union with God. The catechism summarizes the Christian belief in this way:
|The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”:78 “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.”79 “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.”80 “The only–begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”81|
Despite secular attempts to downplay the impact of Christ, our calendar retains the mark of His coming. Modern attempts to replace B.C. (before Christ) with B.C.E. (before the common era) and A.D. (Anno Domini – in the year of our Lord) with C.E. (common era) still doesn’t change the fact that the “common era” is counted from before and after the coming of Christ. In fact, the coming of Christ has changed history universally to an extent unmatched by any other person, empire, or movement.
Jesus tells us to “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.” During Advent we take a step back to readjust our perspective. Unfortunately, the craze leading up to Christmas tempts us to step backward rather than forward. We can too easily become either stressed by the anxieties of Christmas celebrations or distracted by feasting and consumerism that we forget the impact and gift of Christ in our lives. God became man, that we might become God. Advent is a time to reflect on this mystery and invite Christ to bring to perfection this good work that He has begun in us.
|I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 NAB|
- Reflect on the inestimable dignity you have in Christ. How might you align your view of yourself with God’s view of you?
- Consider the gift of God becoming man. How does this deepen your feeling of confidence and security knowing that God has united Himself with our very nature?
- God’s intimacy through Christ is startling and should have a startling effect on your life. Thank God for how He has transformed your heart and your life. Invite Him to transform it even more.
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Each day this week, thank Christ for His closeness to you. Keep it present to your mind by wearing a cross or carrying a scripture verse in your pocket.
- Identify one way that you don’t live up to the dignity Christ has given you. Resolve to act or be treated in the way you ought as a son or daughter of God.
- CCC 1691 “Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.”
- Pray for the unborn and for greater appreciation for the sacredness of life from conception to natural death.
- Read and reflect on the Incarnation of Christ in the catechism (paragraphs 422-483) CCC 422-483
~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2015
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