Pope Benedict reflected on the mystery of the Incarnation during his general audience Jan. 9, calling it the “original gift of Christmas.”
“On that holy night, God becoming flesh, wanting to become a gift for man, gave himself for us; God has made his only-begotten Son a gift for us, taking our humanity to give us his divinity,” the Pope said at the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.
“Here we find the model of our giving, because our relationships, especially the most important ones, are driven by the free gift of love.”
Pope Benedict opened his remarks by dwelling on the term “Incarnation,” which developed through reflection on the words of John's Gospel, “the Word became flesh.” He said the incarnation is “central to the Christian faith.”
The word “flesh”, he said, in the Hebrew context, “indicates the person as a whole, the whole man.” Thus there is significance in the particular time and place in which Christ became man: he cares for the particular circumstances of everyone's life.
“This is to say that the salvation wrought by God made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth touches man in his concrete reality and in whatever situation you are.”
“God took the human condition,” he continued, “to heal us from all that separates us from him, so that we can call him, in his only-begotten Son, by the name 'Abba, Father,' and be truly children of God.”
The pontiff said there is a danger that we have become so accustomed to the fact that “the Word became flesh” that we have forgotten its profound significance.
“It is important then to recover the amazement before this mystery...God, the true God, Creator of all, has come as a man in our streets, entering the time of man, to communicate his own life.”
Pope Benedict continued, saying the Incarnation “shows us the unprecedented realism of divine love.”
“The action of God, in fact, is not limited to words, indeed we might say he is not content only to speak, but is immersed in our history and takes on the fatigue and weight of human life.”
The fact that God chose to join the human experience, growing up in a family and having friends, “is a powerful stimulus to question the realism of our faith,” he said.
Faith “should not be limited to the sphere of feelings and emotions, but must enter into the reality of our existence, that is to touch our life every day and direct it in a practical way.”
The Pope emphasized that faith has a “fundamental aspect” with affects “not only the mind and the heart, but the entirety of our lives.”
Pope Benedict concluded by examining the link between the Old and New Testaments. He said the opening of John's Gospel “clearly alludes” to the creation story from the beginning of Genesis.
John the Evangelist, he said, read Genesis “in the light of Christ.” So too we must always read the Old and New Testaments together.
Jesus is the New Adam, and “in this child, the Son of God contemplated in Christmas, we can recognize the true face, not only of God, but the true face of humanity.”
“Only by opening ourselves to the action of his grace and trying each day to follow him, do we realize the plan of God for us, for each one of us,” concluded Pope Benedict.