Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Reason For The Season

The reason for the season, an oft-repeated phrase thrown out there more like a monkey wrench, serving as timely reminder, and at times subtle but still loving warning, for each Christian approaching these Christmas holidays, or winter holidays as many secularists would like everybody to refer to it.

Observing around one can truly say that we have gone a long way from our ancient understanding and celebration of the true reason for the season. Man’s boundless creativeness and resourcefulness, and throw in there, unparalleled business acumen and entrepreneurship, have heavily candy-coated the recurring holidays so much so as to completely submerge its more mystical meanings. In its place we have collectively anointed the superficial manifestations of materialism and secularism to co-opt its rightful place. Even the very name of Christ-mas has been rigorously challenged in many public spheres.

Credit the Christian churches for doggedly keeping the flame aglow, maintaining the same holy vigil and subdued celebration of this most significant event in Christian history, so profound and shrouded with mystery as to escape the easy discernment of the typical Christian today.

In most Christian practices, this liturgical season continues to be referred to as Advent, coming from the Latin word, adventus, meaning the coming or arrival. And this well-anticipated event has been wrapped around the great mystery of the Incarnation. The taking on flesh of the Word of God, who deigned to become one with us and to dwell amongst us.

And this is the central theme that has been gravely diminished in the citizenry’s secular celebration of these holidays, save for the meager or occasional attendances to church rituals and festivities. Our undivided attention and avid participation in sumptuous food-taking, the mad scramble for exciting gifts, the well-planned vacation getaways, the lemmings-like rush to well-attended games, and etc. have all conspired to remove our hearts and minds from the true reason of the season.

How many present-day Christians have even bothered to learn about the implications and ramifications of that great mystery of the Incarnation? And more importantly, what one’s Faith requires from each member to discern and accept about the Incarnation? And one fears that learning sufficiently about this mystery, one may be well disposed to henceforth treat the holidays with a less than spirited enthusiasm if one cannot learn to accept the boundless leap of faith required of each Christian about the Incarnation.

Regarding this mystery, here is what the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) laid out as its infallible definition:

“We confess that in these latter times the only-begotten Son of God appeared in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation – the distinction of natures not having been taken away by this union.”

Stripped of its archaic language and baring its essentials we come up with the following: In the Incarnation we have One Person, the Son of God, and two natures, one divine and the other human, and these two natures are united in one Person. Of great importance in understanding this then is the clear delineation and distinction between “nature” and “person”.

Admittedly, this is a doctrine not very easy to comprehend, much less swallow, and simply because it is beyond the finite ken of human understanding to fully grasp the preternatural significance of this most unique union in one Person. There is absolutely no model to compare this with. Nothing in the past to even hint of any similarity. But accept we must, if we want to keep our faith; and on a more corporeal level, if we want to continue with our devoted celebration of the recurring holidays we all have become so automatically fond of.

Before you leave maybe in your confused state, ask yourself these questions. Does Christ then have two personalities? If not, where is the human person?