This homily was preached in St. Francisville, LA on December 11th. This was only trip there in December, so a Nativity homily was offered.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be! Since this is the only time I’ll be with you this December, it only seems natural to talk about the most important event that the Christian Church celebrates in the month of December. And in reality, one of the most pivotal moments in all of human history—the Incarnation of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ. To be technical, the Incarnation actually takes place at the Annunciation, when the Word of God is formed in the womb of the Virgin Mary. But in December we remember the first revelation of this blessed event to the world—the birth of the Incarnate Lord. This is a topic that we could talk about and consider and meditate on forever, but this evening I’d like us to consider two things—What is the Incarnation, and Why is there the Incarnation. The term Incarnation of the Word refers to the act of the Son and Word of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God Himself, becoming man. The Incarnate God takes on all of humanity and lives a full and complete human life. It’s significant for us to understand what this means, what the implications of this statement are. The Christian Church has always taught that the Incarnate Christ was not some sort of phantom. This is not pretend. Christ doesn’t seem to be human, He doesn’t seem to be hungry and thirsty and tired, He doesn’t just appear to exhibit human weakness and frailty. He is fully and completely human, with all of the struggles that every other human being endures. And this humanity that Christ takes on is not the humanity of another. He doesn’t mysteriously take over an already existing body, He doesn’t indwell a human being in order to experience humanity and live among us. The Body of Christ is His Body, from the moment of His conception to His death. And even after His death—the Body of Christ rises from the tomb, and ascends to be seated at the right hand of the Father. The Body of Christ belongs to the Son of God just like my body belongs to me—it’s rightly called the Body of God. And this Body is taken on by the Creator for the rest of eternity. This means that God—the Christian Church teaches that God is Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God in three Persons, one will, one energy, three hypostasis. The Word and Son of God humbled Himself and became what He had created (Col 1:16). In the Incarnation God voluntarily, He didn’t have to do it, He voluntarily takes onto Himself the fullness of humanity What do we mean by saying the Fullness of humanity—a mortal body, a soul, intellect, will, emotions, and all the blameless passions-hunger, thirst, pain, fatigue. A God Who would never experience any of these things, voluntarily takes it on Himself. And Fr. Thomas Hopko makes a very important point for the depth of our understanding and for the religious climate that we live in today. He says that a God Who would create this world, and give the creation freedom, and ended up with a broken and fallen creation that chose to reject its creator, like we have today—any God Who would create this and not take it onto Himself, not share in this with His creation, and offered healing in Himself to that creation, that God would be a tyrant. And our second question for the evening—Why the Incarnation. Christ takes on Himself all that we are in order to redeem it, in order to offer us healing and salvation by joining humanity to the Godhead. Why do we need to be healed—sin. Every choice we make that is not in accord with the will of God separates us from God, and somehow this had to be healed. The Fathers of the Church are very clear when speaking about the relationship between the Incarnation and our salvation—“what was not assumed cannot be healed.” Christ takes on all we are to join it for eternity to the Godhead, so that we can be saved. We’re offered healing, union with God, because God became man and now all of creation exists in a new and transfigured relationship with God—it’s no longer simply a fallen creature relating to his Creator. But we have an advocate at the right hand of the Father—Christ has joined Himself forever to the creation, He’s experienced everything we have. I don’t know if you remember that song from about 10 years ago entitled “What if God was One of Us?”—He has been, and He is, and He always will be. Because of the Incarnation, everything in human life is transformed in Christ, we go through everything with Him. The bad is now for good, the last will be first, the meek will inherit the earth—everything is turned upside down and made new in the light of Christ. St. Athanasius the Great has a very famous quote that encapsulates all of this. What is the Incarnation–“God became man.” Why the Incarnation—“so that man might become god.” “God became man so that man might become god.” The purpose of the Incarnation was so that God could unite Himself to creation and share the fullness of His life, His glory, His majesty, His beneficence, with us. One of the pre-Nativity hymns of the Church says, “Sharing wholly in our poverty, Thou hast made our clay godlike through Thy union and participation in it.” There’s no confusion—man will never become God. But we’re offered, by His indescribable grace and mercy, we’re offered to share with Him in His life, all the while remaining the unique persons that He created us to be. This is what we celebrate with the Nativity of Christ—the initial revelation of this Mystery of God’s saving dispensation for the human race, in the Birth of the Messiah. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

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