God’s Gift to Mankind

Christmas greetings to you, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ!

The birth of our Lord we celebrate at this time is a mystery of unfathomable depth. Indeed, who among us doesn’t have Christmas memories of our childhood—be it 30, 50, or 70 years ago—yet still today fail to wrap our finite and fallen minds around this greatest of all gifts: the gift of God’s only Son and, through him, the gift of divine life.

Throughout the Christmas season, attentive ears will hear of the “divine commerce” or “divine exchange” the Father offers us by means of the birth of his Son. During the Prayer over the Offerings at Midnight Mass, for example, we hear about “the holy exchange that restores our life.” The Father exchanges his Son for us so that we can now become sons and daughters of God.

Another text that makes the same point occurs each time the deacon or priest adds water to the wine in the chalice at Mass. As he pours the water, he prays that “by the mystery of this water and wine,” we “may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

It is too easy for all of us to see the darkness, the fallenness, and the woundedness that each of us has, and consequently that features so prominently around the world. But God has given us a great gift that overcomes our sadness. We have been made in God’s image, and, even though that image has been disfigured by sin, we are given the great possibility of restoring that holy image in ourselves by the birth of Jesus. To adapt a phrase: Jesus took on our image—a human face!—so that we could regain his

Brothers and sisters, I pray that you find and put on this divine image this Christmas. Do not be afraid, but rejoice in that new life—here and now—it is ours for the taking. God gives us a great gift in his Son: let us strive to give him the gift of ourselves, for in him we find joy.

Merry Christmas!