December 24, 2013

Why the Nativity?

Moses longed to see God's glory but was only allowed to see God's back.

Moses said, "I pray thee, show me thy glory." And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name `The LORD'; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But," he said, "you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live." And the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen." (Exodus 33:18-33)

Elijah knew God was in the gentle wind and he hid himself, knowing that he would die if he looked at God.

And when Eli'jah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. (1 Kings 19:13)

Moses and Elijah were granted their wish, were allowed to see God in the person of Jesus, were allowed to see God's face when they stood with him on the mountain of transfiguration.

And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli'jah, talking with him. (Matthew 17:2-3)

All of Israel had longed to see their salvation, longed to behold God's glory, longed to see God's face. Until Jesus was born, they had only seen manifestations of God - the burning bush, the cloud during the day and pillar of fire at night... Man was finally able to behold God's glory in the person of Jesus, was finally able to see God's face at the nativity.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (John 1:14)

God had finally revealed himself fully. Man was finally able to see God's glory, to touch God, and converse with God and to eat with God. John speaks so eloquently about the great gift of seeing God with his own eyes, about Israel's longing and its fulfillment in Jesus.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life -- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us -- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-3)

It was the eternal longing of Israel, to look upon the face of God. Israel was finally able to do that at the nativity. We get to do that at every Mass at the elevation when the priest says...

Behold the Lamb of God...

We get to see God's glory at every Mass. It is something Israel longed for. It is what we celebrate tonight, that man was finally able to behold God and live. We celebrate that God became visible tonight.

Merry Christmas to all. 


-Tim-

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