December 23, 2022
The Transforming Miracle of Christmas
by Rev. Mark A. Pilon
Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation
Littlemore Tracts, December 24, 2017 -- One sometimes hears these days the trite expression, “the magic of Christmas”. But good Christians will prefer another expression, “the miracle of Christmas”, or “wonder of Christmas” because that is the most accurate description of Christmas for believers of all ages, in every age. In truth, the miracle or wonder of Christmas is only fully accessible to faith. In what sense, then, is Christmas seen as a miracle by believing Christians?
Christmas celebrates the “miracle” of the infinite and almighty God, who made the heavens and the earth, making Himself a part of His creation and entering into human history as the supreme part of that history.
For us, Christmas celebrates the greatest of wonders, the “miracle” of the infinite and almighty God, who made the heavens and the earth, making Himself a part of His creation and entering into human history as the supreme part of that history. Christmas marks the miracle of the infinite becoming utterly finite, forever taking our comparatively infinitesimal humanity to Himself as His own, and for our sake, and forevermore.
Once faith fully assents to this wondrous historical fact, the sublime miracle of God truly becoming man, indeed a child of man, everything else about Christmas becomes understandably miraculous, wonderful to behold, most powerful in its effect upon our hearts and minds, and miraculous in what it does to our souls.
O what joyous supernatural events we contemplate in Christmas, the virginal conception and virginal birth itself, the shepherds’ vision of the Angels, the Magi following a star, all of this is plausible and quite minor supernaturally when compared to the miracle they are all ordered to, the stupendous coming of God into His Creation. His coming is to rescue what He himself has created, and above all to rescue the image of Himself that He has established in this world, the natural image of God found in every human person.
Christians who have true faith will celebrate this greatest event in all of human history and be themselves supernaturally transformed by its power.
In every age following the birth of Christ, there will be many unbelievers who will totally miss the utterly supernatural character of the Christmas event and what it accomplishes in every faith-filled soul.
But there also will be many others who will take this miracle in by their faith and allow it to works its wonders in their own persons. Christians who have true faith will celebrate this greatest event in all of human history and be themselves supernaturally transformed by its power no matter where they live or what the condition of their life may be.
Once faith fully assents to the sublime miracle of God truly becoming man, everything else about Christmas becomes understandably miraculous … most powerful in its effect upon our hearts and minds, and miraculous in what it does to our souls.
Indeed, the more difficult a believing Christian’s life may be, the more wonderful will be their greeting of Christ on the feast of his birth. For in their suffering, they come to know that He alone can make their difficult life worth living, for He alone holds out the hope that God has not abandoned them even if the world has.
Our Christian faith teaches us that God became man precisely to save us and to assure us that every human person’s life has meaning and hope. The very fact of His coming in all humility for our salvation is the greatest assurance that we possess of our true value as human beings, the value we have in the heart of our Creator. And His coming is likewise the promise that we will at last know the joy of our divine Master, if not fully in this world, for sure in His heavenly Kingdom.
Theologically speaking, the Incarnation of God is the visible proof of God’s eternal love for every man and woman and of His eternal desire for our happiness both here and in eternity. God would surely not have gone to such lengths to become a part of our troubled world had He not loved us beyond all telling in spite of our failure to love Him in return, which is the deepest truth about our sins.
His coming is to rescue what He himself has created, and above all to rescue the image of Himself that He has established in this world, the natural image of God found in every human person.
And yet it’s also true that this God’s tremendous desire for our personal happiness will not be fully realized in this sinful world, no matter how much we struggle to make that happen. Human sin and suffering inevitably frustrate our desire for complete happiness in this world. So even good Christians will suffer because of their own infidelities toward God and because of the indifference of so many people who could help, but choose not to help alleviate suffering. Jesus taught us that He personally has known our suffering, first by being born himself in poverty, because there was no room made available to a young woman about to give birth.
And He also knew suffering in life when He was rejected and misunderstood, and finally He suffered from vile accusations, tortures and crucifixion as a criminal. And He freely chose this path of life surely to reassure the poor and abandoned of this world that God is personally close to them in their suffering, because He suffered like them and far more than any of His creatures.
He chose this path precisely to assure the rejected and suffering of this world that if man will not or cannot alleviate their suffering, then God, who has come to save them, us, from the greatest suffering of all, the eternal suffering of Hell, will also superabundantly compensate for this earthly suffering of man in the joys of His heavenly kingdom.
Christians who have true faith will celebrate this greatest event in all of human history and be themselves supernaturally transformed by its power no matter where they live or what the condition of their life may be.
So Christmas is the great feast of Faith and Hope for all of us, but especially for the poor, because the whole event is a promise that God has not forgotten them and has come especially for his little ones, which he shows by entering His world as a poor child of humble parents. And in truth, all of us sooner or later find ourselves among the suffering, even if we are super rich, and all of us face that ultimate poverty of death, when we are the poorest of the poor, even our life being taken from us.
And thus Christmas proclaims hope for all of us, because we are all poor in the ultimate sense, for we are all condemned to die, and we all suffer in different ways in this life. Moreover, all of us are desperately poor when it comes to our sinfulness and inability to save ourselves, not only from physical death but the second death which results from the evil of sin and separation from the Lord who alone can give us life eternal.
This anthropological fact of our spiritual and bodily poverty always points us to the miracle of Christmas provided for every person, because in this deeply spiritual sense every person is truly poor. We have no hope in this world when it comes to eternal life if we look to ourselves, but God has come to our rescue by doing what was previously unimaginable, truly miraculous, by taking on our mortality, our human poverty, so that He can give our mortal flesh an immortal destiny. He has come only for our sake, to rescue us from hopelessness and fear, and to give us a share in His Life, His happiness.
If we miss this miracle of Christmas, we miss everything. If we grasp this miracle, then we have the secret to life, to eternal life, and we possess joy, unending joy.
Once we surrender in faith to Him, nothing can ever take that gift away from us if only we cling to the sacred humanity of our Savior, whose birthday we celebrate each Christmas. His Birthday is, then, the birthday of hope for man. If we miss this miracle of Christmas, we miss everything. If we grasp this miracle, then we have the secret to life, to eternal life, and we possess joy, unending joy.
With Mary, then, who believed and with Joseph who believed and with the Shepherds and the Wise men who believed, let us all make our way to Bethlehem once more in faith to greet our Savior this Christmas, and to know ever more deeply the unquenchable joy of this gift from God to us, His only-begotten Son in the flesh.
Copyright @ 2023 by the estate of Rev. Mark A. Pilon and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Fr. Pilon delivered this sermon under the title of “Preparing in Faith for Christmas,” on December 24, 2017. “The Transforming Miracle of Christmas” may be reprinted if credit is given to Rev. Mark A. Pilon and fgfBooks.com. If reposting, please use a live link to this page.
Rev. Mark A. Pilon (1943-2018) was a priest of the Diocese of Arlington. An inspiring preacher, pastor, and educator, Fr. Pilon had an STL, summa cum laude, from the John Paul II Institute at the Lateran University; an STD, magna cum laude, from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome; and an M.S. in education from Catholic University of America. At various times, he taught at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Christendom College, Catholic University of America, and at the Christian Commonwealth Institute in Spain. See more of his sermons at Littlemore Tracts.
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