"The Unprecedented Realism of Divine Love"

Pontiff Reflects on the Mystery of the Incarnation in Weekly General Audience

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Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his weekly General Audience catechesis to the meaning of the word Incarnation, a term that «has resounded several times in our churches, to express the reality we celebrate on Christmas: the Son of God became man, as we say in the Creed.»

The Holy Father began by explaining the meaning of this word, a term that is central to the Christian faith, starting from the Church Fathers. Citing the works of St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Irenaeus, the Pope said that their works used it when «reflecting on the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel, particularly in the expression, ‘the Word became flesh’.

«Here the word «flesh» indicates man in his entirety, under the aspect of his transience and temporality, his poverty and contingency,» the Holy Father emphasized.

«This is to say that the salvation wrought by God made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth touches man in his concrete reality and in whatever situation he finds himself. God has taken on the human condition to heal it from all that separates us from Him, to allow us to call him, in his only begotten Son, by the name of «Abbá, Father» and to be truly sons of God. «

Recalling the Christmas tradition of exchanging gifts, the Holy Father pointed out that while this may be a gesture undertaken out of convention, it genuinely is an expression of affection.

«The thought of giving is at the heart of the liturgy and brings to our consciousness the original gift of Christmas: on that holy night God, becoming flesh, has wanted to become a gift for men, he has given himself up for us, God gave his only Son as a gift for us, he assumed our humanity to give us his divinity,» the Pope said.

«Here», the Holy Father emphasized, «we find the model of our giving, so that our relationships, especially the most important ones, may be guided by generosity and love.»

The Realism of Divine Love

Pope Benedict XVI continued his discourse on the Incarnation, saying that it shows the «unprecedented realism of divine love.» The Holy Father went on to say that it wasn’t suffice for God to solely speak but to enter into our own history and bearing upon himself the weight of human life.

«This mode of action by God is a powerful stimulus to question ourselves about the realism of our faith, which should not be limited to the sphere of feelings and emotions, but must enter into the concrete reality of our existence, it must touch our everyday life and direct it also in a practical way,» the Holy Father said.

«Faith has a fundamental aspect which affects not only the mind and the heart, but all our lives.»

After greeting the pilgrims gathered in various languages, the Holy Father concluded his General Audience, calling on the faithful to «live generously your ecclesial commitment, stimulated also by the Year of Faith, so that the Lord may fill your hearts with the joy that only He can give.»

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