Human history is divided into two parts: before and after the Messiah. The zero point, the center of our history is the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. The center of our history is Christmas.
The Old Testament deals with all human history from creation of the universe, the creation of our first parents, and the history of our salvation prior to the birth of Christ. The New Testament of the Bible begins with the birth of Jesus and the coming of the kingdom of God down to present times. We live in New Testament times.
All that came before Christ did not include eternal life. Only death reigned supreme prior to the sin and rebellion of our first parents. It was not possible to have eternal life before the birth of Jesus Christ. We heard in the first reading from Isaiah,
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
We should all thank God that we don’t live in that melancholy age of pagan gloom and darkness when “Death” was always victorious. Nothing was more powerful than Death.
The birth of Jesus Christ marks the very center of human history, and a change from gloom to light, the gloom of death and the light of eternal life. After the birth of Jesus, his earthly life, death and resurrection, humanity now has the opportunity, the promise and the plan of eternal life, through the sacraments He left us for in this life to achieve eternal life: Our baptism and the Holy Eucharist. The “Good News”, the “Gospel” we proclaim is “Life” in abundance, wthout end.
Our salvation is only possible if Jesus is God. Some say Jesus was a good man and a good example for us, but not God.
If Jesus is not God, how can we be saved? Only God is eternal. There is not eternal life apart from God. Only God can share with us eternal life. You can’t give what you don’t have. If Jesus is not God, then he cannot give us eternal life. That is the issue. The only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ, because He is God. Being Divine, He can share His Divinity with us. That is the plan that God has eternally prepared for our salvation.
Jesus is the Son of God, Son of David, and his kingdom will have no end. He is the son of man by birth of Mary. Jesus is the son of God because God conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb.
And Mary is the model Christian for all of us. She was open to the Word of God. She allowed the Word of God grow in her. She was obedient to God, saying,
“I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me what you told me.”
Thus our Christian life invites us to be like Mary, open to the Word and ready to serve.
I encourage you to spend time this Christmas, sitting quietly before the Manger scene. Think about the importance of that scene for all mankind, and for you, personally.
Night has ended. We are in a new Day. We have endured the darkness of Death. Now, in knowing God in the newborn infant, we begin to see the possibilities of growth with him. In the Manger we see Hope.
St. Paul tell us,
The grace of God has appeared, saving all
and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires
and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope,
the appearance of the glory of our great God
and savior Jesus Christ….