Spirituality for Today – December 2015 – Volume 20, Issue 5

A Plan for Saving

Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

A photo of Christmas Flowers

Centuries strewn with broken covenants, a long succession of judges, prophets, kings, and countless men and women of holiness, a host of literary forms declaring God's law and God's presence, and still more had to be done to bring salvation to God's wayward handiwork. Within the great mysterious workings of the Divinity, an ultimate plan was devised: the Word would become flesh.

Will God search throughout the world of his making to find an instrument of humankind to bring this plan for salvation to fruition or will the Savior appear full-grown to begin his saving mission? In order to fulfill the scriptures, the Messiah must be of the lineage of King David. Was there a suitable candidate among the royalty of that time? Inscrutable is the wisdom of God. The Father would reveal the Son to the world in a most humble and most welcoming manner. There was a young girl of marriageable age whose name betrayed her unlikely calling – Mary or Miryam (exalted one). She was from the town of Nazareth. This place of Mary's origin was of no particular significance; it is not mentioned at all in the Old Testament. The only reputation that it had was a bad one. Nazareth was populated primarily by a greedy, materialistic people. The gospels contain this utterance about the town, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?"

The answer is "Yes! Yes! Yes!" The one who would bring into the world its savior would come from Nazareth.

The Author of all creation would not usher this young woman into this immeasurably magnificent role unprepared. From the womb of her mother, Mary would be free of Adam's sin. She would grow in faith and love of God. When that momentous day arrived when the angel Gabriel would appear to Mary and announce that she, indeed, had "found favor" with God and that she would be the one to give birth to the Son of God. Remembering that Mary's path to holiness that led her to this encounter was a product of her free will, she had to respond affirmatively to the messenger of God's declaration. In humility she expressed wonder as to how this conception would be accomplished since she was a virgin. Assured that the One who created the universe certainly could accomplish this act, she gave her total being to God and to this marvelous vocation. The plan of saving mankind and bringing forth the reign of God into the world had started.

In order that the body of Christ might be shown to be a real Body, he was born of a woman, but in order that his Godhead might be made clear, he was born of a virgin.

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Now the next step was to legally establish the Savior as being from the line of David. As foster father, the righteous Joseph would fulfill that requirement. He was to take Mary as his wife. As one can imagine, a problem had arisen in the news that his devout, lovely, virginal bride was pregnant and Joseph was, by no means, the father. Being a virtuous man, he determined to divorce her quietly and not put her to shame. Once again, Gabriel, the messenger of God, assured Joseph in a dream that he and Mary are part of a great event initiated and consummated by the Holy Spirit and that he need have no concern about making Mary his wife. Imbued with righteousness, Joseph awoke committed to Mary and to his part in this amazing story.

We, therefore, have come to the celebration of the fulfillment of the Word made flesh and the great gift of salvation from sin and death. In wonderment, we place our gratitude to those two human beings who in their faith and in their freedom said yes to God. Throughout all human history no leader, no inventor, no scientist, no philosopher, no writer, no poet, or no other person has given more to the world than Mary and Joseph.

I pray that we do not let the mystery of the Nativity of Jesus Christ overwhelm us and cause us to miss the importance of the cooperation of free human beings in bringing to completion the miracle of our God among us. Now, it is our turn to emulate Mary and Joseph in that we too must do our part to make God visible and reveal to all mankind the good news of our salvation and the mission of love that it entails.

From all of us at Clemons Productions, we wish you all the blessings of this Christmas season and our support for all of the ways that you make Our Lord present in your life.