The Gospel we have today, that of the Prologue of the Gospel of John, shows us the emanation of Christ from the Father, Christ begotten from eternity. This Gospel shows us that Christ, who entered humanity, is God.
The Nicene Creed professes that the Son of God was not made, not created, but eternally begotten of the Father. St. Athanasius, sheds light on this when he reminds us that when a father begets a son, the son shares the same nature as the father. So we are begotten with a human nature. So Christ, begotten of God the Father, shares the same nature, He is divine. Christ is God. He is eternal. There never was a time when Christ was not.
Jesus, born in Bethlehem, St. Paul says in the tribute to his Godhead which is our Epistle reading, is the Son of God. He is the brightness of God’s glory and the figure of his substance. He upholds all things by the word of His power. All the angels adore Him. His throne is forever. He is unchanging and his years shall not fail. John the Evangelist says in our Gospel reading He is the Word of God from the beginning, through whom all things were made, the light which overcomes the darkness, that as many as received him He gave the power to become sons of God.
He says, the Word became flesh. In Jesus, born in Bethlehem, the eternal Word has taken on our exact human nature, all that is weak, mortal, transitory, becoming one with us in everything, except sin, which He, nevertheless, bore, and redeemed on the cross, the great exchange. He stands in our place, with our burden of sin, overcoming it in the resurrection, so that we can stand in His place as beloved sons and daughters of God.
This is what brings us joy at the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the beginning of our redemption: that Christ became what we are so that we might become what He is; that the Son of God became the son of man so that the sons of men might become the sons of God; that He who was rich in heavenly glory became poor for our sakes that through His poverty we might become rich; that He who was eternally happy in heaven became the Man of Sorrows that through His tears we might enter into the joy of the Lord.
And John says, “And he dwelt among us,” literally, “He pitched his tent among us.” This gives a clue. This reminds us of the Old Testament passage where David wants to build a house for God, a temple, and a fine one, made of cedar. Nathan, the Prophet, goes to God, and tells Him, your people want to build a house for you. And God says something quite wonderful, “I am a God who dwells in tents.” He dwells with His people. They were nomads. He desired to be with them in all the exigencies and uncertainties of life, to journey with them and guide them day by day. This is the manger in Bethlehem. This is the house at Nazareth. This is the beginning of our cherished belief that the home is the little Church, where Christ is present, where He dwells. Later in the Old Testament, God desires the temple to be built so that sacrifice may be offered. To dwell in the little Church and the larger Church, Christ was born for this.
The only explanation we shall ever have for the mystery of the Lord’s birth and incarnation, death and resurrection, is the gratuitous love of God. Love always unites. When we love someone, we want to be with them, and we are away from them, we miss them. So it was that in love, God did not stay in His place in heaven, but united Himself with us. Not only this, but He became one of us, closer to us than we are to ourselves. This is the indwelling of the Word made flesh. This is Jesus born of Bethlehem. This is the beatific face of the love of God.
In behalf of our pastor, Fr. Passos, and myself, I want to extend warm Christmas greetings to all. This day, and always, may you know the love of God and dear ones. A blessed and happy Christmas to all.