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(Part 42)


December 25, 2009

Today’s readings
Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 98:1-6
Hebrews 1:1-6
John 1:1-18

Job could not understand God. He had been blameless and upright (Job 1:1) but he was severely afflicted.[1] He had been just in his ways but seemed to suffer injustice. He thus even demanded that God answer him (Job 31:37b).

Elihu conceded that one truly could not understand God, and that God did not have to explain Himself to anyone. “The Almighty! we cannot discover him, pre-eminent in power and judgment; his great justice owes no one an accounting.” (Job 37:23).

Today people still do not understand God. But rather than leading them into trusting faith, many have gone the other way. Rather than accepting the mysterious work of a Creator, people accept the big bang theory of the universe[2] and the theory of evolution of the human species.[3] Rather than embracing the cross, people disdain and avoid suffering at all costs.

At some point in the history of humankind, God did reveal Himself more clearly. Whereas before no one saw or talked with God face to face, now they did. God revealed Himself through His Son Jesus, as “in these last days, he spoke to us through a son” (Heb 1:2a). In the mystery of the Incarnation, God became man. “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14a). Jesus is God, and in him we see the glory of the Almighty Father (Jn 1:14b). Jesus “is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being” (Heb 1:3a).

The glory of Jesus is that of the Creator-God. “All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.”[4] (Jn 1:3). God created and sustains the universe, and His work is the work of Jesus, the Son “through whom he created the universe” (Heb 1:2b), and “who sustains all things by his mighty word” (Heb 1:3b).

Now the tragedy of the world is that even though God has already revealed Himself in human form through Jesus, the world still does not know Him and does not accept Him. “He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.” (Jn 1:10-11). The Creator-God has come into the world, the Creator has dwelt among His creatures, God has revealed Himself, but the world has been unmindful of Him.

The urgency of the task today, as it has always been, is to make God known. This is done through the work of evangelization, which is proclaiming the good news of the coming of the Savior Jesus into the world. This task is so important, is so critical, that Isaiah exulted: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, ‘Your God is King!’” (Is 52:7).

With the birth of Jesus, the Savior has come into the world. That is good news! The shepherds who saw the new-born Jesus were “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen” (Lk 2:20). Those who await consolation and restoration should rejoice in Jesus. “Hark! Your watchmen raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the Lord restoring Zion.” (Is 52:8). The world that is afflicted in darkness and sin should rejoice. “Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the Lord comforts his people, he redeems Jerusalem.” (Is 52:9).

God has already revealed Himself. The Creator-God has dwelt among us. Jesus has performed his mighty deeds for all to see. “The Lord has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations” (Is 52:10a). This is the good news that we need to proclaim. We must work tirelessly, so that “all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God.” (Is 52:10b).

Prior to the coming of Jesus, no one had seen God. People could try to understand God, and they could see, though imperfectly, who God is. After God revealed Himself to Job, he said, “now my eye has seen you.” (Job 42:5b).

But to us God has been more intimately revealed. By Jesus. “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.” (Jn 1:18). Jesus is God. God the Son has revealed God the Father. The two are one.

Thus we have not only received revelation about God, but we actually have seen God! In Jesus. “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14).

Jesus came into the world to win for us our salvation. This is the ultimate victory over Satan, sin and darkness. Jesus is the Savior of the world. Jesus’ “right hand and holy arm have won the victory” (Ps 98:1b).

What Jesus did for us on the cross is known to all. “The Lord has made his victory known; has revealed his triumph for the nations to see.” (Ps 98:2). It remains for the world to appreciate what Jesus has done, and accept the salvation that he has already won for us. Jesus’ sacrifice is a manifestation of God’s great love for us and His faithfulness to us (Ps 98:3a), according to His covenant. This is the good news we need to continue to proclaim, to a world still steeped in darkness and sin.

The Savior has come into the world. Jesus has already won the victory. We have been redeemed and restored. “All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” (Ps 98:3b). May the whole world truly experience and live out that victory.

We rejoice in such a God. “Sing a new song to the Lord, who has done marvelous deeds” (Ps 98:1a). We worship the Almighty God. This is our proper response and what is pleasing to God.

When Jesus was to be born, God decreed that the proper posture was worship, and He commanded His angels to do so. “And again, when he leads the first born into the world, he says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship him.’” (Heb 1:6). This is exactly what happened at the birth of Jesus. “And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God” (Lk 2:13).

The shepherds were “keeping the night watch” (Lk 2:8) when suddenly “the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Lk 2:9). Jesus the Savior had been born. Now “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn 1:5).

If only Job had been there to witness the blessed event. We too were not physically there at that time, but every Christmas we do witness this blessed event.

Today we celebrate Christmas. Oh what a glorious mystery! O come let us adore Jesus. And let us rejoice with all the angels and saints in heaven.[5]

“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth; break into song; sing praise. Sing praise to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and melodious song. With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout with joy to the King, the Lord.” (Ps 98:4-6).

* * *

[1] It was commonly held that affliction was punishment for sin.
[2] The theory that the universe came out of some kind of tremendous explosion of pure energy that happened billions of years ago and resulted in the creation of the heavenly objects.
[3] The theory that we evolved from lower species, and among our ancestors are the apes.
[4] If ever the universe was formed out of a big bang, then that was the work of God.
[5] And with Job too, who would be in heaven, if he was a real historical character.

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