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My favorite text from the Christmas Masses, which explains what it is about, is that Second Reading from the Midnight Mass, from Paul’s second chapter of Titus.
The text begins: “God’s grace has been revealed.” What startling words! Obviously, what is “revealed” refers to the Birth of Christ, not to some abstraction. What we see is not “grace,” but the Child in the manger. This “grace” that we now behold was not “revealed” before this moment. Something new has happened in our world.
What has this “grace” done? It made “salvation possible for the whole human race.” The event is not just for members of the family of Mary and Joseph, or even for Israel itself. How is it that we can say of this Child, as of no other child, that, because of Him, “salvation” for each of us, each human being, is now “possible?”
We are next taught something more sober. We are to “give up everything that does not lead to God.” Is there anything that does not “lead to God?” In principle, no. But we are to give up our ambitious “worldly” use of things that lead only to ourselves.
“We must be self-restrained and live good and religious lives here in this present world.” Evidently, this living good lives is up to us. Even with grace, restraining ourselves, leading good lives is necessary.
So even with the coming of Christ, we are still waiting. For what? “We are waiting in hope for the blessings which will come with the Appearance for the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus.”This is the same Child of Jesus and Mary born in Bethlehem. He was to be called “Emmanuel,” that is, God with us. He was God with us.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Grace is Revealed
Father James Schall, S. J. writes,