Why God Becomes Human | Fr. David Vincent Meconi, SJ | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
The Advent and Christmas seasons are upon us. Like the reality itself, we Christians have to look more deeply to see the mystery beneath the glitter and the commotion. God has now descended into his creation to take up his rightful place as Lord and King of Heaven and Earth. He has infiltrated enemy lines in this civil war which rages in each of our divided hearts. In the history of this great battle, only one faithful woman has been his totally. Only she has never strayed, only she has never refused a command, only she is wholly his. The rest of us must be won back through an eternal promise of an eternal labor: Christ’s defeat of sin and death and his extending his life and love in all his elect. This is the great story now made visible in a small cave in Bethlehem. At the center of this scene is Mary, the Mother of God, and in this singular act, she has become the Mother of all God’s children.
And here is where one mystery unfolds into another. Mary intercedes and shares her maternity with all the baptized so that we, too, might bring Christ into the world. Gerard Manley Hopkins thus likened each of us to “New Bethlems,” in whom Christ can once again take on flesh:
Of her flesh he took flesh:
He does take fresh and fresh,
Though much the mystery how,
Not flesh but spirit now.
And makes, O marvelous!
New Nazareths in us,
Where she shall yet conceive
Him morning, noon, and eve;
New Bethlems, and he born
There, evening, noon, and morn.
Our Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that there are four primary reasons the Word becomes flesh. The first motive for God’s becoming human is to reconcile us to his and to our Father: “The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who ‘loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins … the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world … to take away sins’” (§457) (boldface mine). Death was the result of our divine disobedience, so God himself had to take on that which could die in order to atone for what we mortals incurred. Our Lady gives the immortal Author of Life what he needs to reconcile sinners to the Father, his mortality. This is a great paradox: Mary’s loving God enough to give him whatever he asked from her, not only to the point of death, but even death itself.
The second reason the Catechism gives is epistemological in nature.