The great solemn feast of Christ’s Birth, and thus the entrance of God’s Son into human history, coincides with the Winter Solstice. The Epiphany of God’s Revelation to his people, the light to all the nations, coincides with deep dark evening of Winter.
Contrary to the contemporary characterization, Christ’s birth was dated in order to be an alternative to the pagan festivities. Cardinal Ratzinger shows how the dating was meant to coincide with the nine months following March 25, in which Christ was conceived, in which Christ was to have been crucified, and in which the world was created by God. (See Joseph Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, pp. 105-109).
The consequence of the symbolism behind this is remarkable. Western Christianity has made a great effort in the past century to make the person of Jesus more human, through more historical biblical criticism or through positing the Gospels as myth. There may have been benefits to this, as well as positive intentions. I believe, however, that by making the Son of God, Jesus, more ordinary, or indeed too ordinary, we only strengthen the impression in our heart to make us agnostics.
If Jesus is too ordinary, or too human, it puts a greater distance between man and the divine. If Jesus is too relatable, then the shocking yet beautiful truth of the Incarnation dissolves in the legalisms and moralisms that many people (even many Christians) take Christianity to be.
Is it not the case that many people take for granted that God is not deeply concerned with us? Don’t many people, particularly those who have left the Church, take for granted that God is not indeed in our midst?
The Incarnation verifies that humanity is the principle concern of God. The Incarnation verifies that God’s love is so magnificent, he would cross the great chasm of duality between humanity and divinity. The Incarnation becomes for us a beautiful harmony, a marvelous marriage of humanity and divinity.
It seems to me that our Western World is caught in a deep dark winter of sorts. People take God’s absence for granted, whether they be atheists or agnostics. Our brilliance seems to have diminished, as the season of fall always has. If you assess the state of art and culture, it is pretty clear that the despair of winter is the fashion of the day.
Perhaps our work in the New Evangelization is to carry that light to all the world. This is the brilliance, the beauty of the Incarnation.
Copyright © 2013, Mark Menegatti