Christmas is meaningful to Christians everywhere, but I think the feast is particularly meaningful to Catholics.
Christmas celebrates the Incarnation. God loved us so much that He sent His Son to us. The Incarnation puts flesh on the truth. People knew God before the Nativity but with the Nativity, God gave us tangible truth. God knows how humans work; He knows how much easier it is for us to believe if we can see and touch and hear something. So He gave us His Son, for all the world to see and hear; for some to even touch.
For Catholics, however, the miracle of the Incarnation continues to this day; it does not end with the Ascension. Just like the followers of Jesus could ask Him for answers, we can turn to a living, breathing person for truth. Apostolic succession keeps the Incarnation alive so that believers can always get clear teaching on faith and morals. We do not believe that the Pope is Jesus or His equal, but through the chair of Peter, we believe that God continues to make the unambiguous truth easily accessible.
This is the way God has worked since the time of Exodus. Moses spoke with authority because he was in direct conversation with God. That’s why the Israelites went to him to answer their questions (Exodus 18:15). When Moses subsequently delegated God’s authority to others, the Israelites respected those subsequent spokesmen. This same authority remained valid all the way up to the time of Christ. At Matthew 23:2-3, Jesus reminds His disciples to do what the Pharisees say because they hold the authority of the seat of Moses. When Jesus gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom at Matthew 16, He is transferring authority from the seat of Moses to the seat of Peter. We continue to benefit from that authority to this day through the Papacy.
So you can see that for Catholics the “enfleshment” of the truth is something that remains real, even 2000-some years after the birth of Christ.
tMichaelB is the web site for Tom Bengtson, who writes about business, religion, family and politics.
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