The Incarnate Word
Each Christmas, we celebrate the mystery
of the Incarnation. Jesus, the Son of God,
who is fully God, became fully human at a
point in our history, to be the means of
our salvation. St. John exclaimed: "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling
among us, and we saw His glory, the glory
as of the Father's only Son, full of grace
and truth." (John 1.14)
Belief in the mystery of the Incarnation
of Jesus Christ is fundamental to our
Jesus became flesh, born an infant,
all human fragility, and He died, immersed
in the suffering of human pain. While
shared in our humanity, His will remained
united with the will of His Father
Holy Spirit. His heart, united in love
His Father, was filled with immense
mercy for each person He encountered,
indeed for all of humanity.
As Jesus lived in union with the Father and
the Holy Spirit, so we are called to become
one with the Trinity through union with Jesus.
St. Paul expressed his union with Christ:
"I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in
me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I
live by faith in the Son of God who has loved
me and given himself up for me." (Galations 2.20)
Mary was chosen and prepared by God to become
the mother of Jesus. By her free consent,
in the strength of great faith, she united
her will completely with God so that the
promise of the angel Gabriel would be realized:
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the
power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born will be called
holy, the Son of God." (Luke 1.35) We recall this great
mystery when we profess: 'He was conceived by the power of the Holy
Gabriel addressed Mary: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Luke 1.28) To be 'full of grace'
is to be pure in the fullest sense - to be
freed from the stain of original sin as well
as from personal sin. The Church teaches
that Mary was redeemed from the moment of
her conception by the grace of Jesus her
Son. Mary's holiness is truly unique in this
In Mary's response to the angel Gabriel,
cognizant of her own virginity, she asked:
"How can this be, since I have no relations
with a man?" (Luke 1.34) The Church teaches that
Mary's virginity was preserved and sanctified
by the birth of her only Son, and that her
virgin motherhood is another aspect of the
divine mystery of the Incarnation. We recall
this mystery when we profess 'and born of the Virgin Mary'.
Mary's cousin Elizabeth, prompted by the
Holy Spirit, greeted Mary with the words:
"Most blessed are you among women, and blessed
is the fruit of your womb. And how does this
happen to me, that the mother of my Lord
should come to me?" (Luke 1.42-43) We venerate Mary as
the Mother of God as we recall this divine
mystery each January 1.
This poem expresses the inseparable
between the events of the birth and
of Jesus. At His birth, He was wrapped
swaddling clothes and laid in a manger
Luke 2.7); at His death, He was wrapped
linen cloth and laid in a rock-hewn
(c.f. Luke 23.53)
Wrapped and Laid
The Father spoke and she conceived
The Word beneath Spirit's shadow.
By her consent, as she believed,
Eternity entered the now.
Born in the flesh, the Babe is wrapped
In linen and laid in a cave.
In Mother's love, He is enrapt --
Emmanuel is here to save!
Angels and shepherds bend the knee
Before the newborn King of kings.
Most humble Babe -- Greatest Glory
Peace comes to earth as heaven sings.
Destined to be the rise and fall
Of many hearts -- a sword would pierce
Her own heart too -- this was His call;
A prophecy enrapt in tears.
Set in the crib; nailed to the cross
The Lamb of God is sacrifice:
He came that no soul would be lost;
His precious Blood would pay their
Dead on the cross, the Man was wrapped,
In linen and laid in a tomb;
Obedient to death, enrapt
Within the Will -- as in the womb.
The Father spoke one Word to save
His children from cradle to grave.
May the Spirit overshadow the caves
hearts that the Word Incarnate may
again, enrapt in the joy of our souls.
New American Bible - Catholic Edition
Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs
Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Christianity,
© 2004 Ignatius Press, San Francisco, p.
271 - 280
(c) Paul Buis, 2006