Gospel Matters:  God’s Plan from the Foundation of the World

Dr Christine Wood, Director, Office of Evangelisation & Catechesis

What is the meaning of Christmas? It is the manifestation of God’s plan for creation from the foundation of the world. This plan, which was hidden for ages, is that God the Son became human and dwelt amongst us to enable us to become children of God for the praise of his glory (Eph 1:3-10).

The fact that Jesus Christ is an historical figure who lived in Palestine 2,000 years ago is undisputed by serious scholars. The Holy Bible and Christian Tradition from the first century attest to Christian belief that this Jesus is both fully God and fully human.

The Jews had long-awaited a Messiah who would reign as King of Israel, regathering the twelve tribes of Israel from the nations, and with them, the Gentile peoples, into friendship with God.

Israel’s prophets foretold the time and place of the Messiah’s birth, which is why the wise men travelled from the East bearing gifts for this new-born King, whose reign would bring peace on earth.

At Jesus’s birth, the angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.” The angels learn the mystery of God’s will from the mystery of Jesus Christ, the God-man.

The message of Christ’s birth goes out immediately to the world: to the lowly shepherds who tend their flocks by night, to the wise men who journey from afar in search of the truth. Even the farm animals surrounding the tiny Babe, wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in an animal’s feeding trough, seem to recognise their Creator, as Isaiah foretold: “The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master’s crib.”

The marvellous nativity scene of the Baby Jesus with his adoring Mother Mary and foster-father Joseph, should give us pause to consider the mystery made present: that God assumed human flesh and dwelt amongst us.

Imagine what might have been transpiring in the hearts of Mary and Joseph on this Christmas night. They had humbly accepted the miraculous conception of Jesus as the work of the Holy Spirit. Now they behold their God-made-man face to face.

This event changed everything for them, as it does for us too! God loves us so much that he became one of us to save us from our woes and to offer us a share in his divine life. God’s plan from the foundation of the world was to unite all things, visible and invisible, in Christ. He begins this with his Incarnation and continues this work in the Church. Happy Christmas!

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