In on the Secret: What the Incarnation Means for Us
The Incarnation—the belief that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ—is central to our faith. In this extraordinary event in salvation history, God gave us an incredible gift. Pope Benedict XVI said of the Incarnation, “God took on the human condition in order to heal it of everything that separates it from Him, in order to allow us to call Him, in his Only Begotten Son, by the name of ‘Abba, Father’, and to truly be children of God.” In taking on human flesh, God showed us our true value as his children and gave us the perfect example of how to love him.
God is, among many things, a wonderful storyteller. Even in the way he revealed the Incarnation to the world, God gave us a short summary of the way salvation history was unfolding according to his plan. The actual event of the Incarnation happened at the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was to be the mother of God. When Mary consented, the child Jesus was conceived in her—God became man, a fact that was only known to Mary at the time because of her unique bond with the unborn child and the grace of the Holy Spirit. But on Christmas, Jesus was born, and the Incarnation was revealed to all people. God was no longer shrouded in the same kind of mystery.
God’s revelation to humankind has been similar throughout salvation history. First, he was known only to his chosen people, the Jews, and his presence dwelt in the Ark of the Covenant. Similarly, when God incarnate dwelt in Mary’s womb (the Ark of the New Covenant), he was known only to her. In the same way that Jesus was to open salvation to all people through the New Covenant, the truth of the Incarnation became visible and known to all people when he was born. Jesus’s birth was a moment of universal revelation of the Incarnation representative of the universal revelation of the New Covenant.
So, what does this mean for us today? We are people of different cultures, languages, races, and experiences. Yet we are all the children of God, made in his image, and invited to the banquet of salvation through the blood of his Only Begotten Son. Like Mary, who said yes to God, we are also called to say yes to salvation. As we prepare to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord, may we give thanks to God for revealing himself to us through Jesus and lovingly inviting us to grow ever closer to him.