In modern world, we are accustomed/trained/ to think everything in terms of rigid rules and formulae; calculus and Newtonian laws. It takes faith and courage to believe in Miracles!. What do you think the greatest miracle of all? Many Christians might quickly remember resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Christ. Not to say it wasn’t. Though it is great, others have died and risen again, Lazarus, Jairus's daughter, and many more. Of course, When the common man died and risen, they have died again. Not so with Christ. Because He is MAN and GOD. The reason for His death and resurrection have such a power isn’t because it is a great miracle. Because it was preceded by “great mystery”
Incarnation- The mystery of God becoming man. In every other religion beside Christianity, you can take out the main Character’s miracles, if any at all, and the religion continues without change. In Christianity it is not so. “The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. We believe that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this.” The questions should be Why did God needed to be incarnated? Couldn’t He save us in other ways?
From the beginning, the message has been to reveal God’s infinite love towards man. St. Clement of Alexandria states that man was in the Divine mind before the creation. In His infinite love, He created the universe for man’s sake and then God created Adam and Eve. He willed that he should remain in holiness and live in paradise without sorrow, pain in addition to the promise of living immortality. Man is the only being created in His image and likeness. This means man’s reasoning is an image of God’s reasoning. This implies that God has given Adam the possibility of gaining true revelation and knowledge of God, at least partially. Being created with freedom, God secured the grace He gave by letting them follow His Law saying, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Adam fails to keeps the loving commandment. Soon enough human instinct rage; man rebels against all spiritual values, and a temporary spiritual blindness overpowers him and deprive him and drive him to commit the grossest transgression even against himself.
Why did God create the tree?
Perhaps someone may ask why a loving God would plant a tree and give Adam/Eve a commandment while He knew they will disobey it and fall under sin. For three reasons :-
To let Adam know that He is a beloved creation. Having a commandment shows there is a law giver. God so loved Adam He didn’t want human to follow the footstep of the devil out of pride.
To let the first parent show their practical love to God. God created man to His likeness, i.e. had a nature of love, desired to love and to be loved by others. Our lord and savior, Christ told the disciples, “If you love me, keep my commands.” God, out of unconditional love, has endowed every possible thing to Adam and Eve, it was their turn to show Him love by being obedient to his command.
To Let Adam know that he has a free will. The commandment assures Adam’s choice to freely accept God in his life and obey Him or to reject Him and disobey His commandments.
St. Macarius states this about Adam’s capabilities as long as he obeyed the commandments, “So long as the Word of God was with him and the commandment, everything was his. The commandment was his inheritance, his clothing, and a glory that was his defense. The Word Himself being with him was everything to him, whether knowledge, or experience, or instruction… and so long as he abide in the commandment he was a friend of God.“ Sadly Adam couldn’t keep the commandment.
Consequence of the Fall
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and broke the law, they had to die and perish to satisfy God’s justice. The result of transgression was twofold in nature.
The Death sentence, for “the wage of sin are death”[Rom. 6:23)
The Corruption of human nature-” For God created man to be immortal (incorruption), and made him to be an image of his own eternity. Nevertheless through envy of the devil came death into the world [The Book of Wisdom 2:23].” The human nature contaminated when sin come in and death worked within it.
Out of many possibilities, God had three options (humanly speaking) dealing with Adam’s fall/Sin.
For Adam to DIE- This contradict God’s endless love and His Mercy to human. This is what satan longs for after enticing them to sin. God could have created a new Adam, free of course, to fall again and die. This would be a continuous series of victory for satan. This is against God’s wisdom and honor. God had created a man to enjoy His love, blessing and sonship. How dare satan deprive of these free gift. St. Athanasius contemplates on this saying “it was better for a man if he wasn’t created than to be created to face this fate.” .
For God to FORGIVE Adam - this contradicts God’s infinite Justice. Forgiveness would have question God’s claim of justice and credibility. Because God has told Adam what his decree would be if he transgress- death. If there had been only sin, and not its consequence of corruption, repentance would have been “enough?”. Let say for argument sake, God had forgiven Adam. Then Adam’s nature would have remained corrupt. This corruption would have lead him to live in a continuous state of sin and remained untruthful. So this was not a good solution either.
For God to REDEEM Adam- This is the only viable option that would meet God’s love and justice. Through redemption Adam would need someone to die for him, and to renew his human nature. This way Adam would escape death and yet meet God’s justice and love. But how?
Redemption through incarnation
For centuries before the Lord advent, the world suffered under the yoke of sin, be it violence, crime, treachery and sexual immorality. The world was crying out for redemption- not for improvement or repair- but for complete transformation of life. Because repentance and just living “right” gave no exemption from the consequence disobeying God. Moses’s Law also fails to realize our salvation , for according to St. Paul, it looks like a mirror that discover our sin, ignorance and mortality. All it could do was teach people the need for salvation by a Savior.
Because man sinned against infinite God; his sin was limitless demanding limitless punishment which couldn’t be attained through man’s capacity for repentance. Man's nature had become corrupted by sin and it required limitless atonement. Who is limitless except God Himself!. The redeemer needed to be pure, holy, sinless, omnipotent, human, creator and willing to die in Adam’s place. These traits only be found in God. That is why in our liturgy we acknowledge saying, “ You didn’t entrust salvation to an angel or archangel, to patriarch or prophet, but to You..” And in “fullness of time (after 5500 years)”, God has sent His Son to this world. The most important reason for the incarnation was to resolve the redemption issue of bringing man back to his first rank . St. Athanasius describe incarnation as “God was made man, so that men could be made gods.” Simply to say “God stooped down to our level, that he may raise us up to His level.” St. Clement the Alexander added saying: “O divine mystery! O divine mystery! ..the Lord was laid low and man was raised up!”. All to explain the incarnation of the Second person of the Holy Trinity, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who took a human body and soul from the Holy Virgin St. Mary to save mankind.
The Nativity has forever established for and imprinted upon us all the presence of God’s perfect love. The creation of entire world didn’t extract from God anything other than “let it be done and it was done”. But with human, first He created us in “His image and according to His likeness.” And then “Truly God Himself sent the very Creator and Fashioner of all things by whom He made the Heaven to be Human to layout the foundation of man’s redemption. Through incarnation we exchange gifts in that GOd took our flesh so we might be His; and have His divine power and boldness to overcome the world and our own weakness. With utmost happiness St. Paul call, God’s incarnation as “a more excellent way” (I Cor. 12:31) and a great mystery of godliness: (I TIm 3:16) to show us a real, true and complete love.
The Blessing Of Incarnation
Many precious blessing have been derived from the Incarnation. Through incarnation we have have received grace of adoption as God’s children (Gel. 4:4-5), partaken the divine nature and have tasted heavenly gifts (Heb. 6:14), got Saviour (Lk 2:22) , got redemption (Eph 1:17), blessed with immortality (Jn 6:34) and received Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:16, 16:13), and many More….
So... why do we still have the problems?
Through many years, we have celebrated so many christmas and Easter and others remembering how and what God has done for and to us. However, our lives seem not being changed (transformed) throughout those years. We are usually in a state of “busy and rushing” with life- meetings and deadlines, immense industry of entertainment, advertising , combined with sin, frustration and personal failure , all are crying out for total transformation. We need to ask a deeper questions of WHY? Why am i still stuck at one place spiritually? Why am i feeling hurt while i am called after His name? How does Christ’s birth impact my life? How does Christ's birth transform my Spirit?
We stumbled at Christ because we put Christ in our lives on the same level as other needs, the level of seeking bread, and the level of pleasure, knowledge and politics. ….And so the Christ within us appears a thousand times less than His real stature. The lesser and weaker image of our Christianity is our vain attempts to apply the commandments of Christ to our daily problems without Christ. The discrepancy between Christianity and Christ have more than ever become manifested in us and even outcry against us. Let us pray and appeal once more to the Person Christ to born in our heart today. Our humanity will remain miserable until we find God , and it will not find God except in Christ. Lets not forget His Holy word saying that we can’t do anything right “without Him”. Our greatest need today is to feel His coming to us and to receive Him with all our being, then leave Him to speak and act within us. The redemptive work of Christ sums up in our becoming like Him, bearing His qualities once He has filled our life and reigned on us as St. Paul said, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.(II Cor. 13:5).
May the intercession of Our Holy Virgin Mary Be with all of us