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What Does the Incarnation Mean For Us Today?‎

It is true that the Incarnation of Christ is a historic event; he actually ‎appeared on earth as a man, and lived in a certain time period, but how are ‎we to benefit from this appearance? How do we benefit today from our ‎Lord’s Incarnation? Are we merely antique and history collectors in our ‎church, or do these events have an actual meaning for us?‎

When someone starts giving us information on a very high plain, what do we ‎say to him? “Come down to earth, tell us what you mean.” This is exactly ‎what God did for us. Why did he come down to earth?‎

‎1.‎ He came down to earth to show us that God is love. He was born, was ‎crucified and suffered, died and resurrected, all out of His love for us. ‎Saint John writes that God is love. As God did this love start and end in ‎a single historic period? No, it is an eternal love for us, just as God is not ‎limited but eternal. He knows what it feels to be like us and blessed us ‎by His incarnation and love.‎

‎2.‎ He came down to earth to show us the great forgiveness of God. Saint ‎Athanasius writes that our nature was corrupted and it was not enough for ‎us to repent. It was not the same as the sins we do know. In order to ‎restore this nature he had to become like us and die for us. This is the ‎greatness of forgiveness. “For as the heavens are high above the earth, ‎so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is ‎from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions” (Psalm ‎‎103:11-12). The Cross is at the point where these two cross, and his ‎death is for all of us. ‎

‎3.‎ He came down to earth to show us that God cares for us, that he hears our ‎prayers. Saint John writes in his first epistle, “And this is the confidence ‎we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears ‎us” (1 John 5:14). He is the good shepherd and promised that our Fr. ‎in heaven will give good things to those who ask Him.‎

‎4.‎ He came down to earth to show us that our destiny is not death, but ‎eternal life. He died and resurrected and ascended to open the door for us ‎to eternal life and the Kingdom of God. Death no longer has dominion ‎over us.‎

‎5.‎ He came down to earth not to give us the Golden Rule and other ‎commandments but he taught us how we ought to live. He didn’t just ‎come to give us some high teaching, but we see that he is a real person, a ‎real example of how we ought to live. Imagine knowing an alcoholic. It ‎is easy enough to give him advice, but this advice is cheap. But when we ‎show him others who overcame their addiction, and give him the power ‎to live, then he can fulfill this. Our Lord did the same for us. God saw ‎us in our sinful state, and came down to earth to show us how to ‎overcome sin and be perfect as he is perfect.‎

‎6.‎ He came to show us that He has the power over evil. What are some ‎examples? He overcame temptation; He cast out devils; He conquered ‎death by His death. In the last day, he will come again to establish the ‎everlasting Kingdom for all of us.‎

‎7.‎ He came down to earth to show us that we are not alone. We are not ‎abandoned as orphans in an empty universe but His name is Emmanuel. ‎And he tells us that He will be with us until the end of the age. ‎

‎8.‎ He came to earth to lift us to where we belong. He emptied himself to ‎bring us up with Him. We might ask, how could it be possible, how ‎could Jesus be both God and man in one Person, and retain His Divinity? ‎Imperfect analogy of Babe Ruth playing with His son. He throws the ball ‎and hits the ball at a speed and distance that his boy can manage. But ‎does this mean he ceases to be a great baseball play. He empties himself ‎for the sake of his son, and eventually brings him up with him. He does ‎not keep playing at his level even as he grows older. This is the same ‎with God and us. God came down to our level to make it easy for us to ‎know Him

Two analogies of the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius:‎

‎1.‎ The Analogy of the King: “You know how it is when some great king ‎enters a large city and dwells in one of its houses and because of his ‎dwelling in that single house, the whole city is honored, and enemies ‎and robbers cease to molest it. So it is with the King of All: He has ‎come into our country and dwelt in one body amidst the many, and in ‎consequence the designs of the enemy against mankind have been ‎foiled and the corruption of death, which formerly held them in its ‎power has simply ceased to be.” ‎

By becoming man dwelling in a human body, in the womb of Saint ‎Mary, he blessed all of mankind, not only in that time, but also at all ‎times. This honor has subjected us from being overcome by the devil.‎

Saint Athanasius continues: “If a king who has founded a city, which ‎due to the carelessness of the inhabitants is attacked by robbers, he ‎does not, in any way neglect it. Instead, he saves it from destruction ‎and takes revenge from the robbers, having regard to his own honor ‎rather than to the people’s neglect. Much more, then, the Word of the ‎All-Good Fr. was not unmindful of the human race that He had ‎called to be; but rather by the offering of His own body, He abolished ‎the death which they had incurred, and corrected their neglect by His ‎own teaching. Thus, by His own power He restored the whole nature ‎of man.”‎

In spite of our negligence, God intervened for our salvation, acting not ‎according to our sins, but according to His goodness, His full power ‎and love. To cure us He had to die and He had to teach us. He ‎restored our nature and taught us how to live.‎

‎2.‎ The Analogy of the Sun: How is it possible that God came down to ‎this corrupted world, though He is Holy? Imagine that he goes ‎through the worst part of the city full of dugs and violence. Does this ‎make sense? ‎

But Saint Athanasius says that the sun’s rays come into contact with ‎our streets, homes, even garbage dumps, and purifies them without ‎becoming defiled. Just as the sun is not defiled by earthly dirt, but ‎instead, it purifies, the Word was not defiled by being in the body, but ‎rather sanctified it. Just as the sun is not affected by darkness, but ‎rather illuminates it, causing it to disappear. The Lord also ‎enlightened us through baptism and chrismation, allowing the Holy ‎Spirit to dwell within us. Just as the sun reveals hidden objects, the ‎Lord “revealed” us as we are meant to be.

Posted by Fr. Moses Samaan

April 9, 2009