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제목 Three “Births” of Christ - First Sunday after Christmass(2015-12-27)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2015-12-29




Three “Births” of Christ - First Sunday after Christmass (2015.12.27)


My dear Brethren,
The Son of God became the Son of Man so that the children of men may become children of God. St Paul said in the epistle today: “God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law: so that he might redeem them who were under the law: so that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). “God sent His Son”, Jesus: He is the Son of God. “Made of a woman”: He became the Son of Mary. Jesus is thus true God, eternal Son of the eternal Father; and true man, Son of blessed Virgin Mary, born on Christmas night. Thus the Son of God became the son of Mary, “Son of Man”, “that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

Indeed on Christmas we celebrated three “births” of Christ, hence there were three Masses. We celebrated the eternal birth of the eternal Son of God. Thus we heard in the Introit of the midnight Mass “The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee” (Ps. 2:7): “this day” is the “eternal Today” of God. We also heard the Gospel of the day: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made” (Jn. 1:1-3).

We celebrated the temporal birth of the Son of Mary in the crib of Bethlehem. Hence we heard in the introit of the day Mass: “For a Child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called the Angel of the Great Counsel” (Is. 9:6). We heard the Gospel of the birth at Bethlehem at the midnight Mass.

And there was a third Mass, the dawn Mass, with the Gospel of the adoration of the shepherds and the introit: “the light shall shine over us today, because the Lord is born unto us, and He shall be called the Admirable, God, the Prince of Peace, the Father of the world to come, whose reign shall have no end.” It is the common interpretation that these refer to the third birth, the birth of Jesus in our souls. Indeed He is “the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world” (Jn. 1:9). “I am come a light into the world; that whosoever believeth in me, may not remain in darkness” (Jn. 12:47).

Our Lord enlightens our mind by the “light of faith”. Faith is a light; through faith we get to know the hidden secrets of God: His plan to save us from sin by His Son Jesus Christ, by the Sacrifice of His Son on the Cross; His plan to give us eternal life; the means He has given us for our sanctification, especially in the Sacraments; and above all we get to know His inner Divine Life, the life of the Three Divine Persons for all eternity. Faith prepares for the beatific vision! St John says: “God is light, and in him there is no darkness” (1 Jn. 1:5). And St Paul continues: “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:6).

Those who do not believe are in the spiritual darkness: they do not know where they come from neither where they are going; they do not know the Way to Heaven, which Way is Jesus Christ and there is no other; they do not know that the remedy for all our human ills is in our Lord Jesus Christ. They do not know where to turn to in their spiritual needs. It is our duty to give them the light of faith, to help them to find our Lord Jesus Christ: “Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 5:15-16).

Not only does our Lord Jesus Christ give light to our mind, but also love in our heart, in our will: “the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us” (Rom. 5:5). Saint Thomas Aquinas, together with the tradition of the Saints, point out that not only is the virtue of charity given to us, “poured in our hearts”, but the Holy Ghost Himself too is given to us! In the Gospel, after exhorting us to pray, our Lord concluded: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?” (Lk. 11:13). Marvellous gift! The effect of that gift is that the soul becomes “the temple of the Holy Ghost”, as St Paul again teaches: “Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).

Now since the Three Divine Persons are inseparable, with the Holy Ghost necessarily come also the Father and the Son. Indeed Jesus does teach this explicitly: “If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him” (Jn. 14:23). Thus the soul becomes the temple of the whole Holy Trinity. “God is charity: and he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him” (1 Jn. 4:16).

You might say: but since God is everywhere, was not the Holy Trinity already there before? St Thomas Aquinas explains very clearly and beautifully the great difference. He explains that a spirit is not in a place in the same way as material things are in a place. Material things are limited in their place. A spirit is not limited to a place; but itself a spirit is NOT in a place. “Location” is one of the material “accidents” of material things. A spirit is in a place when it ACTS in that place. Thus our Guardian Angel is always “with us, near us” because he acts to protect us, to lead us… sometimes in a very manifest way. God is everywhere because He acts everywhere, giving being to all things, sustaining them in their existence, being the First mover of all of them. That action is common to all material things (and even to all angels, good and bad), hence God is everywhere because He acts everywhere, even in Hell.

But much above that common action, there is a very special action in the souls of the just, of those who live in the state of grace: God sanctifies them (hence the name “sanctifying grace”); He sanctifies them precisely by giving them the light of faith and the virtue of charity, making them thus loving God above all things, and establishing a friendship with them. Because this action is supernatural, above our human nature, it corresponds to a new presence of God in the just, a presence of friendship, a presence of grace. And this is what is meant by our Lord, by St Paul and the passages I quoted above. The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost come and dwell in us to make us “friends of God” (James 2:23). Thus the book of Wisdom says that the Divine Wisdom, “being but one, she can do all things: and remaining in herself the same, she reneweth all things, and through nations conveyeth herself into holy souls, she maketh the friends of God and prophets” (Wis 7:27).

This is the third birth of Jesus: the birth of Jesus in our soul. Jesus becomes thus our life: “Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20). That new birth is first at baptism, and if it is lost by sin we find again that new life in the Sacrament of penance. There is nothing worse than mortal sin, that makes us lose Jesus, lose God’s loving presence in us, lose the Infinite Good! That birth of Jesus in us at Baptism is thus parallel with the Birth of Jesus at Christmas: we find this in the very prologue of St John’s Gospel: “as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name, who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:12-14).

St John says: “they received Him”: Jesus came in them. And that happened when they were “made the sons of God” and “believed in His Name”, thus all this verse applies to Baptism. The next verse manifests the elevation of this birth of Jesus in them, and their birth as “sons of God”: they were “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Indeed Baptism is not out of violence (“of blood”), nor for lower purpose (“not of the will of the flesh”), not even for earthly honest purpose (“nor of the will of man”), but it is for a divine purpose “born of God”. That verse thus links with the previous verse about baptism. But note the next verse: “And the Word was made flesh”: it clearly applies to Christmas! And the same is true for Christmas as it is true for baptism: Christ at Christmas was “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”. The birth of Christ is a model of our baptism.

Christmas is the feast of the coming of the Son of God on earth: God the Father gave us His only-begotten Son, through Mary, on Christmas day. Our Baptism is the coming of the Son of God in our life, in our soul, when God adopted us as His children, making of us members of His Son. May we appreciate the gift of God! God the Father could not have given us anything greater than His only begotten Son! He could not have united us more closely to Him than making of us members of His Mystical Body, the Catholic Church, making us live of His life by sanctifying grace and the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity! May we always appreciate the gift of God, and live accordingly, worthy of such grace: “I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called, with all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity, careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One body and one Spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:1-5).
 
As the Blessed Virgin Mary has a very unique place in the coming of Christ at Christmas, so she has a very unique place in our spiritual life. God has given His Son Jesus Christ to the world through Mary; similarly all graces are given to us especially the grace of adoption as children of God through Mary. She is “Mediatrix of all graces.” The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of Jesus, head and body, Jesus and his whole Mystical Body: she is the mother of each and every member of Christ, of every faithful, of everyone in whom Jesus lives and reigns. Our Lord Jesus Christ shall always be “the Son of Mary”; we shall be conformed to Him, we shall imitate Him truly if we too are good children of Mary, Knights of the Immaculata, extending the Reign of Jesus through Mary. Many of you have already made their consecration to Mary according to St Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort. If you have not, I suggest you prepare yourself for the 2nd February. Fr Onoda shall be in Seoul on that day. It is the day of the “presentation of the Child Jesus and Purification of the Blessed Virgin”: may our Lady “present you with Jesus to the Father” on that day!


Baptism is a beautiful gift of God, by which our Lord Jesus Christ starts to live in us, and we in Him. It conforms our life to His Birth. Jesus was poor in his Nativity: so too we must become poor in spirit, detached from earthly things, not searching our own comfort but rather the salvation of souls. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:3). Jesus was obedient: “and He was subject to them” (Lk. 2:51). So too we must be obedient to our superiors: children to their parents, wife to their husband, workers to their supervisors. Jesus was “meek and humble”; we too must be so. Jesus was born as “the Lamb of God” (Jn. 1:29) who would offer Himself for the salvation of men: so we should too offer ourselves like St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and victims of love to the merciful Love of the Sacred Heart, for the salvation of our neighbour.

This Sacrifice is not a defeat as some think; it is on the contrary an act of the Divine Omnipotence: it is the victory over sin. Now as sin is the cause of all sufferings and death (which are the penalty of sin), so the victory over sin is the cause of the victory over all sufferings and death! Thus is a tremendous victory. We see this in the Introit today. It says indeed: “While everything was respecting the silence of the middle (of the night) and the night had reach half its course, thy Almighty Word, o Lord, came down from its heavenly throne in Heaven.” This refers to the Word of God that struck dead the first-borns of all the Egyptians, as the last plague of Egypt, thus delivering all the Hebrews from the slavery of Pharaoh. This slavery signified the slavery of sin under the power of the devil: as by the Sacrifice of the Lamb the Hebrews were delivered so we are delivered from the slavery of sin by the Sacrifice of Christ.

We have in one of our chapels in Australia a chasuble on which are written the words of the second “Great O Antiphon” that illustrate this introit beautifully. For seven days before Christmas, from the 17th to the 23rd of December, there is each day a special antiphon at Magnificat that starts with the word “O”: these are called the “Great O Antiphon”, and each describes a special title of the Messiah to come. So that second antiphon reads: “O Adonai and leader of Thy people Israel, Who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and Who gave him the law on Mount Sinai: come and redeem us by thy outstretched arm!” “Adonai” means “Lord”, and is the way the Hebrews used to read the Holy Name of God (Yawhe: the four sacred letters: iod he waw he), hence the mention of the apparition at the burning bush, where God revealed this Name.


The giving of the Law on Mount Sinai was engraved in tables of stone 50 days after the crossing of the red sea, the first Easter; but St Paul tells us that in the New Testament, the Law is engraved in the tables of our hearts by the writing of the Law of Charity by the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, 50 days after Easter. Now the “outstretched arm” signifies the might of the Lord that struck Egypt with the Ten Plagues and thus delivered Israel. But on that chasuble, it takes a beautiful signification: it signifies the outstretched arms of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, when He delivers us from sin. In both cases, it is a victory, a victory over sin, an effect of the Omnipotence of God! There is more power in overcoming evil by good, than in rendering evil for evil. Thus one of famous prayers of the Church says that God shows His Might particularly in showing mercy, in forgiving sins, in overcoming sin by His Goodness and the grace of forgiveness.

The Child Jesus is powerful to save; He will save us by His Sacrifice on the Cross as the Lamb of God. His birth in us by Baptism leads us to offer ourselves with Him for the salvation of our soul and of many others. May our Lady help us to be faithful to the grace of our baptism and thus go to Heaven! Amen.


Fr. F. Laisney (SSPXASIA)