Isaiah 61:10-62:3 Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7 John 1:1-18 (Psalm 147)
Christmas is the feast of the incarnation. It is not necessary to speculate on the accuracy of his birth date, rather we are invited to ponder the deepest meaning of the event. Theosis--humans being united to God--is the result of incarnation--God becoming human.
Today our readings are full of images which provide insight into the mystery of theosis. These metaphors allow us to think in human terms about a divine process beyond our understanding.
Isaiah 61 celebrates God's intimate love for His people. Israel is "clothed in salvation" and "robed with righteousness"--dressed like a bride. In marriage, the man and woman become one flesh. However, getting married takes but a moment, being married requires constant renewal each day. In the same way, we are also in the process of becoming what baptism already made us---one with God.
God says: "For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness shines out like the dawn and her salvation like a burning torch." The Lord is passionate and restless, He longs for all to be right. He wants His people to be healed and prosper. Notice salvation is manifest in light and fire. We must pray constantly for the healing light and fire of love to fill us.
In Galatians, we read that Jesus is sent forth so that we can be adopted as children of God. This is another metaphor of union. In the Roman world adults adopted adults to provide them with status and an inheritance. Jesus is the only Son of God, but by the power of the Holy Spirit we share in His status. Like the Hebrew slaves, so we leave slavery to sin and death behind. We are adopted, and our inheritance is resurrection life in Jesus.
In the Gospel, Jesus is the Light. He gives life. All who welcome Jesus in loyal trust receive His authorization to be called children of God. Jesus in us makes us God's children.
In marriage the two become one flesh, in the incarnation God the Word becomes flesh. Two--God and Man--become one. The Greek word, to dwell among, literally means to live in a tent or tabernacle, and is taken from the book of Exodus. YHWH's glory was present among His people in a tabernacle, now, the human flesh of Jesus holds the glory of God among us. Jesus is the tabernacle of God's glorious presence.
The infinite Father comes to His creation in Word and Spirit. He comes to enlighten our darkened minds and wounded hearts--and fill them with His own life and presence. Theosis is the marriage of God and humanity. Theosis is to be adopted as children of God and share in the sonship of Jesus. theosis is the burning flame of God igniting our minds and hearts, His holy light penetrating us and setting all things right until we enjoy the abundance of salvation healing. theosis is loyalty to the one we trust, loving fidelity to Him in response to His faithful love.
The word becomes flesh today in you and I. The Word dwells in us. The Holy Spirit will accomplish what we cannot do. Take heart Christian pilgrim--the life of God is already at work in you making you one with Him. Take heart and refocus your energies to cooperate with the energies of God. Take heart, for you are a glorious tent filled with the presence of the All Holy One---the One who calls you spouse and child. The One whom you will live in forever.
* this includes some of the Hebrew with translations..... "For Zion's sake I will not keep silent [chashah - silent, still, quiet, at rest] Jerusalem's sake I will not rest [shaqat- quiet, still, at rest, at peace, inactive], until her vindication [tsedeq - righteousness, justice, rightness] shines out [yatsa- goes forth, exits, comes forth, escape; used of Exodus] like the dawn, and her salvation [yeshuah- salvation, deliverance, aid, health, prosperity] like a burning torch."
Salvation is God's victory and Israel's abundant health and wellbeing