‘He took my body. He offers me His Spirit. He gives me the treasure of eternal life, taking but also giving: He takes my body so that He may sanctify it, He gives me His Spirit so that He may save me.’ (St John Chrysostom, Homily on the Birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ).
Christmas has come to be synonymous with gifts, but St John Chrysostom’s above words, delivered to his congregation at a Christmas service in Antioch in the fourth century A.D., remind us about the greatest divine gift of all. Christmas, the Incarnation of our Lord is God’s gift to humankind. God sent His only begotten Son, to take on our flesh and live on the earth with us so that we, together with Adam could be redeemed.
Why did God have to send His Son to live amongst us since God is omnipresent? St John Chrysostom together with the other Fathers of our Church, teach us that Christ’s visitation as a human being, His personal visit to the children of our fallen ancestor Adam, was an essential part of God’s divine plan for our salvation. Out of His immense good will, He wished to restore the original relationship humanity shared with God, but had been lost when Adam disobeyed. In the Garden of Eden, Adam had a very close relationship with God. He experienced God’s love and had no sense of fear of Him until only after he had sinned. For the sin of disobedience, Adam was exiled from Eden, living thereafter with the constant sense of having lost the presence of God, the loving Father. And the Father continued to care for Adam and his offspring, waiting for the right time to come and visit, and live amongst His people so that this first relationship could be restored in a more perfect way.
The sons of Adam also waited. In the Old Testament we read about Abraham, and in the beginning of the New Testament we are introduced to Simeon. Both of these righteous men wished to see God’s Day, the Day of the Incarnation. They anticipated it prophetically, and when it finally came they were glad, in the same way that the Magi and the humble shepherds saw the Christ Child in the manger and realised God’s great gift to humankind. This Child was ‘God