Monday, December 29, 2008

The Vocabulary of Christmas Carols


"...Too bad that many people see Christ's humanity only as a device of God's to restore his work of creation, which had been degraded by sin. As though God's humanity were a device!

I have always been struck by the simplistic shortcuts used by the catechesists to explicate the passage from sin to salvation. They seem to view it as an automatism foreseen through all eternity. First era: Man, created by love, rejects God's love; this is sin. Second era: God so loves the world that he sends hhis Son; this is salvation. One thus coldly speaks of God's love as if it were a motor beginning a process to which one ultimately remains quite exterior. One speaks of Christ's incarnation as though it were a forced emergency repair that cost God dearly...God is viewed as a sort of master sumpman, condescending to let his Son descend to earth! Thus, when we closely examine the vocabulary of our old Christmas carols, we find it celebrates God's self-humbling; we also note that Jesus Christ's humanity is conceived of as a sort of obligation that God inflicts upon himself.

...We tend to acknowledge God's 'merit' in humbling himself to become human rather than his joy in elevating us in his happiness. I have never heard anyone say that God was happy to become a human being. To forget that God's happiness is made of this greatness in being human is to go along with an atheism that rightly rejects a God who made himself human because he had no choice. If one fails to realize that for God, Jesus Christ is the desired Child, the awaited Child, the desired Man, the Man of his dreams, in whom he was well-pleased, in whom he finds his joy, then one cannot believe that God's glory is man fully human in Jesus Christ.

...The humiliation for God doesn't consist in agreeing to 'grow small' in order to become human. Nor in being placed on the level of the small and spending his time with the small. One totally misunderstands the Gospel if one views Christ's predilection for the small as humiliation. The humiliation for God is not so much embracing the human condition as assuming the human conidtion of sinners. He who was without sin took sin upon himself. He was fettered by sin, like a slave, but he was freed by the Resurrection to become the perfectly free man. That's why 'God raised him high, and gave him the name which is above all other names.' And this exaltation of the Son of God becomes in Jesus Christ Risen, the exaltation of man."

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