Hear the words of prophecy recorded in Matthew 1:21:
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.
May the words of my mouth, and the meditation on my heart, be alway acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. We pray in the name of The Father, and of The Son, and The Holy Ghost. Amen.
Jesus is the blessed Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” His body prepared in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the action of The Holy Ghost. It is all in all a truly wondrous event in time. IN time, in TIME, IN TIME, such an interesting phrase isn’t it. Let us look at this time in history a little closer.
The first thing we see is that Jesus was born at the time Rome was at the height of its military and political power. It had conquered, what was then considered, the known world. Rome had secured, in effect, world peace through world domination.
To keep this peace Rome had created a system of roads from one end of the empire to the other. The roads were built to make it easy for military troops to get quickly from place to place in order to defend the empire, and were therefore kept in very good repair. Since the roads were easy to travel on and relatively safe they became the economic blood vessels of the empire, carrying goods and ideas from one end of the empire to the other with a speed which rivals modern communications for its effectiveness.
Language also would play its part in the spread of ideas. Latin and Greek were the common languages of trade for both nobles and peasants. People from every part of the known world could meet and discuss trade or exchange ideas with comparative ease.
This special time was the first instance since the creation of the world that ideas and thoughts could spread across the world almost without effort. There were no boarders to cross between nations. If you were a Roman citizen you could travel the world, provided you had the time and money to do so.
The Apostle Paul was tireless in spreading the word that Jesus had taught him and travelled extensively to do so. He could stop anywhere and speak to people who could and did understand him. He traveled throughout the Empire with relative effortlessness to spread the message that The Messiah had come to save man from sin and death.
This ease and speed with which the Gospel message crossed the known world, and its society from top to bottom, would be difficult to envision happening today, even with our technology. While it is true that you can get an idea from one side of the world to the other electronically, most people do not possess a common language understood by all levels of society. Individuals, or even a class of the society, may understand, but a broad cross section of the population will not comprehend the message sent today.
However, at this time in history we find a world not only physically prepared for the spread of the Gospel message it was actually anticipating the coming of the Messiah. How do we know this? We know it because the Magi had been studying the heavens to determine when The Messiah would come. It was not only the Prophets who said that Messiah would come, but others as well.
They knew that the time would come when this event would occur and were prepared to go to see it whenever and wherever it happened. I wonder how many people would be willing to do the same today?
Today we celebrate our Lord’s birth by spending time with our families, exchanging gifts, and giving our time to charities or volunteer work. We are so busy that it is hard to find the time to remember and worship Our Lord Jesus in the appropriate manner, through prayer and thanksgiving for all the benefits that His birth bestowed upon us.
Now this is not a problem for only this time of year, but of all year round. Do we attend church every week, except if we are sick, or do we have something else to spend our time on? Do we take the time to pray every day, or is it the last four minutes of our day before we fall asleep, if at all? Do we take the time to give thanks and say grace over our meals, even in public? Do we even take time to acknowledge Jesus at all during our daily activities?
Time, time, it seems we have so little time.
The celebration of the Incarnation is a joyous one for many reasons. Family, kindness, giving and receiving, loving and being loved, to name just a few. Yet, it is now the time that we should recognize that our salvation has come into the world. Christ will fulfill all the requirements of the Law of God. He will, as 1st John 2:1-2 describes, and as stated in the Comfortable Words which will be recited a little later within the Canon of The Mass:
If any man sin we have an advocate with The Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our sins only, but the sins of the whole world.
If it were not for The Incarnation, Jesus could not reconcile us to God within the covenants that God had established. Christ must come and be under the law, to fulfill the law, and to pay the consequences of the law, so that we may be seen on Judgment Day through Christ’s sacrifice, as the penalty for our sins already having been paid, rather than as guilty parties asking for mercy.
The Incarnation provided us with a different way of viewing God and His relationship to man. Prior to The Incarnation God was viewed as being above in Heaven. The ascending of Moses to the top of Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments provides a visual image of this idea.
God was also seen as totally just. He meted out punishment on both His people, when called for, and on other peoples and nations as well from time to time. Yet, now with The Incarnation, God is Blessed Emmanuel, Jesus is God with Us. He has come to unite man and God in His Person and to understand fully the temptations which we face, and to see them from our point of view right here on earth as a human man. St. Paul describes this idea in Hebrews 4:15:
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
God Who is the creator of time, Who is active within time, now has placed Himself within His creation and experienced it from our perspective. He knows our problems, and provides a way out of them. He knows our temptations, and provides a way to reconcile us to Him through His Son. God, who is perfectly Just, has given His Son to pay the penalty demanded by Perfect Justice. He knows our sin, and He loves us still.
Christ Jesus has come into time. Christ Jesus has come in time to save us. The only question we have to answer is will we hear and heed His message in time? I pray in time that we all will. Amen.
Rev. John Jacobs