After an unusually short Advent, Christmas is here. Another year, another Christmas. I wish each one of you a very blessed, joyful, and peace-filled Christmas.
One of the most common phrases we might hear around Christmas time is that Christ is born in our hearts. I have preached that myself in one homily or another. However, I must admit that I have been ambiguous about what I meant by that. What does it really mean that Christ must be born in our hearts?
This year, I have had a new realization. The phrase, “Christ must be born in our hearts,” is another way of saying that each Christmas, in at least one area of our lives, each one of us must become a little more like Christ. I am fifty-one years old. I am not sure how much longer I have on this earth. You may want to think about your own age and where you are in life. What is the chance that when we stand face-to-face with God, God will not see us, but a person transformed into the image of Christ? Christmas is not merely about Christ being born into our hearts. Christmas is about little by little being transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. In this way, the day of our death is really the day of our birth into Christ in a radically, radical way. Then, it is Christmas.
At Christmas time, we celebrate the fact that God became human. His name was Jesus! Jesus became human so that we can become more divine. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way: “The Word became flesh to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature.’” Then in the same paragraph, the Catechism quotes St, Irenaeus, St. Athenasius, and St. Thomas Aquinas who express the same thought in different words: “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." "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” (CCC 460).
When I say that Christmas is about little by little being transformed into the image and likeness of Christ, I mean exactly what the Catechism says about the divine becoming human so that humans could become divine. Yes, Christ became like us and we might become like him.
This Christmas may there be one area in our life where we have become a little more like Christ. May this be our Christmas.
St. Helen Parish
Grace. Fire. Hospitality. Liturgy. Family. Hope.