A pastoral message from Father Robert Arida
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
These words of St. John the Theologian help to draw our minds and hearts into the inexhaustible mystery of our Lord’s incarnation.
The birth of Christ is the epiphany of divine love. It is also rooted in divine love. The incarnation was predestined before the creation of the universe. Before the sin of Adam and the overtaking of creation by the tyranny of death, the coming of our Lord in the flesh was divinely foreseen. The birth ofJesus Christ was foreshadowed before the ages: “He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of time…”(1Pt.1:20). Our Lord appears in the flesh to complete what was preordained before the beginning and to renew what had been spoiled by sin and death.
God, who is love (1Jn.4:16), offers to us his Only Begotten Son who takes upon himself our sin and mortality. The birth of our Savior is the very expression – the very Word made flesh – of divine love supremely spoken through the cross (1Cor.1:18ff). It is Divine Love, born of Mary, who saves us from the tyranny of sin and death. It is Divine Love to whom we bear witness and which we offer to the world. But, how do we bear witness to Divine Love born of the Holy Spirit and the Ever Virgin Mary? How do we offer to the world the incarnate Word of salvation? The answer lies within us.
As God’s love for the world is expressed in the birth of his Only Begotten Son we are to offer in return our love to God which gives birth to a living faith. Human love, consecrated by the Holy Spirit, conceives faith and faith sustains love. Unless we love God, who has loved us first (1Jn.4:19), we cannot enter the mystery of the Incarnation. If we cannot love God we cannot truly and fully love the other. Without loving God by loving the other we are already perishing. By our fears, vanity and hardness of heart concealed beneath the veneer of goodwill and altruism we close ourselves off from the new life of Incarnate Love.
The mystery of the Feast compels us to embrace the new commandment of love – a commandment not etched in stone but born in the flesh of a virgin mother. Our celebration of the Savior’s birth beckons us to see, touch and proclaim the victory of Incarnate Love which embraces and renews the whole creation. In this embrace “God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (Jn.4:12).
With love in Christ,