Christmas Thoughts from the Big 3  

Posted by Joe Rawls in

On today's celebration of the Nativity, we look at excerpts from the Christmas messages of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Ecumenical Patriarch, and the Pope. Respective hat-tips to Creedal Christian, JN1034, and A Word on the Word.

Archbishop Rowan Williams

Human beings, left to themselves, have imagined God in all sorts of shapes; took Christianity to introduce the world to the idea of God in the form of a baby: in the form of complete dependence and fragility, without power or control. If you stop to think about it, it is still shocking. And it is also deeply challenging.

God chose to show himself to us in a complete human life, telling us that every stage in human existence, from conception to maturity and even death, was in principle capable of telling us something about God. Although what we learn from Jesus Christ and what his life makes possible is unique, that life still means that we look differently at every other life. There is something in us that is capable of communicating what God has to say--the image of God in each of us, which is expressed in its perfection only in Jesus.

Hence the reverence which as Christians we ought to show to human beings in every condition, at every stage of existence. This is why we cannot regard unborn children as less than members of the human family, why those with disabilities or deprivations have no less claim upon us than anyone else, why we try to make loving sense of human life even when it is near its end and we can hardly see any signs left of freedom or thought.

Patriarch Bartholomew

The event of incarnation of God's word grants us the opportunity to reach the extreme limits of our nature, which are identified neither with the "good and beautiful" of the ancient Greeks and the "justice" of the philosophers, nor with the tranquility of Buddhist "nirvana" and the transcendental "fate" or so-called "karma" by means of the reputedly continuous changes in the form of life, nor again with any "harmony" of supposedly contradictory elements of some imaginary "living force" and anything else like these. Rather, it is the ontological transcendence of corruption and death through Christ, our integration into his divine life and glory, and our union by grace through Him with the Father in the Holy Spirit. These are our ultimate limits: personal union with the Trinitarian God! And Christ's nativity does not promise any vague blessedness or abstract eternity; it places in our hands the potential of personal participation in God's sacred life and love in an endless progression. It grants us the possibility not only of "receiving adoption" (Gal 4:5) but also of becoming "partakers of divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4).

Pope Benedict

Today we dispose of vast material resources. But the men and women in our technological age risk becoming victims of their own intellectual and technical achievements , ending up in spiritual bitterness and emptiness of heart. That is why it is so important for us to open our hearts to the Birth of Christ, this event of salvation which can give new hope to the life of each human being.

Wake up, O man! For your sake God became man (St Augustine, Sermo 185). Wake up, O men and women of the third millenium!

At Christmas, the Almighty becomes a child and asks for our help and protection. His way of showing that he is God challenges our way of being human.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 25, 2008 at Thursday, December 25, 2008 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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