Who is Jesus?  A Brief Look at the Incarnation

By: William Hemsworth

In sacred scripture, we read that man was created he had a perfect relationship with God.  Man is the pinnacle of creation. God gave man everything.

In return the Lord asked man not to each of one tree in the garden. Man did not listen, rebelled, and had to face the consequences of sin for the first time. 

The sin of our first parents also applies to us.  We all have sinned, and the penalty for that sin is death.  Saint Paul had the same opinion in Romans 6:23 which states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.  However, the second person of the blessed Trinity, Jesus himself became incarnate to atone and redeem us from our sin.

Incarnation—Bridge from us to God

The Incarnation was needed because we could not atone for our sin on our own.  Only someone who was perfect, and without sin could do that.  As I write this it is the final days of Advent.  

The time of preparation for the birth of Christ is soon coming to an end.  Soon we will be celebrating his glorious birth.  The second person of the Trinity loving us so much that He became man.  He lived as we did with hunger, fear, betrayal, and even death.  

Cross as the New Tree of Life

Hebrews 4:15 sums this idea up perfectly when the inspired author writes, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.”  

This far we have seen that Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses, but this doesn’t completely answer who he is.  Who He is the ultimate gift that we experience this time of year.  

Identity of Jesus

So who is Jesus?  This question goes back to some of the greatest controversies in the early church.  

There were some, such as the Arians, who tried to explain Jesus as being the first thing created.  The problem here is that Jesus, as the second person of the Blessed Trinity, has always existed.  There are many verses that show this and John 1:1 is one example.  That passage of scripture states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

He always was, yet he took the form of a man, and was born in the humblest of conditions.  In our society we have been conditioned to view the manger scene in a very sanitized way.  That manger that the divine Son of God was laid in after his birth was a food trough used for livestock!  

The creator of the universe became a man because he wants us to live.  His love for us is that immense.  In the letter to the Philippians St. Paul writes, “Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness and found human in appearance he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).

Fully Man and Fully God

While on Earth he did not appear as a man, nor was He a spirit that possessed man until the point of the crucifixion as the Docetists and Gnostics would say.  From the time of His conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary he was both fully God and fully man.  This was stated by many church fathers, declared at the Council of Nicea, and at the Council of Chalcedon this became known as the Hypostatic Union.  Jesus was not either or, but He has BOTH a human nature AND a divine nature.  

That is why the Incarnation is so amazing, and to be perfectly honest this barely scratches the surface.  As you gather with your families over the next few weeks and exchange gifts and hugs may we remember the ultimate gift.  That ultimate gift is our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  The second person of the Blessed Trinity, who became man, and experienced everything that we did but was without sin.  He died as the perfect offering for our sin because He loves us that much and he thinks that we are worth being with for eternity!


About our guest blogger:

William is a convert to the Catholic faith.  Before entering the church he was ordained as a Baptist and Lutheran and earned a Master of Divinity from Liberty Theological Seminary.  William lives with his wife and four children in Tucson, AZ and teaches religious education for children and adults.  Check out his website/blog at williamhemsworth.com for more great and informative Catholic content!

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An Advent Reflection on Finding Gratitude in the Stressful Season

By: Jonathan Hicks

On the first Sunday of Advent, our parish priest gave a homily about how during this season the world tends to speed up and get “busier,” but the Church is actually calling us to slow down and spend more time in prayer. My wife and I both left Mass that Sunday with a high resolve to “slow down” this season and not let the usual culprits get the best of us.

too busy meme

First Part of Advent

We got off to a great start. I joined an Advent Meditation group that I was invited to. I committed to some new service opportunities. My wife, Kate, took up extra prayer devotions and made a commitment to go to Confession regularly throughout the season. She went on a retreat. We both decided not to get too crazy with parties, and shopping, and all the usual suspects. We got our kids involved in some new Advent traditions. Things were looking fantastic.

The first week went really well. We worked everything into our already existing routine. We held each other accountable. It seemed like this was going to be the best Advent ever for our family spiritually. However, once Kate left for her retreat, we got a series of unexpected circumstances that through us way off track.

Our Series of Curveballs (or Snowballs)

Once Kate left for retreat, our two year old son got sick with a fever. He couldn’t go to daycare. The illness was prolonged by an ear infection. This was quickly passed to his older and younger brothers and the illness took a week and a half for our family to recover from.

My ability to work during this time was severely limited. Fortunately, my wife and I are both self-employed so it was somewhat manageable. However, ironically during this time I began to generate some new leads and was getting into the thick of a re-vamped marketing plan that I was trying to pick up some steam on before Christmas break.

just keep swimming gif

Nobody was getting a good night’s sleep in our house for about two weeks. Finally, once we thought it was over, then came the stomach virus that afflicted everyone in our family including myself. Suddenly, I found myself stressing out over the season because I was backed up on work and we weren’t ready for Christmas. My prayer routine had gone out the window as I was just trying to stay above water.

God Has a Plan

An Advent prayer

Despite my best plans, my ideal Advent had been de-railed. I had to accept that my prayer life was not going to be perfect, and that I needed to focus on my top priorities for work and possibly save the other tasks until after the New Year.

I’m called in my vocation to love my wife and children. Sometimes that means I cannot commit to a regular routine prayer life and fruitful time of deep contemplation. Sometimes it means holding my five year old while he watches Star Wars until he feels better, or making sure the house is in order because our six month old is sick and just wants to be held by his mom.

The Advent Meditation Group that I joined is looking at Advent through the eyes of St. Joseph. My two biggest takeaways from this group so far in how I am preparing during Advent are:

  • St. Joseph lived his life in humble service to his Creator
  • St. Joseph had a prayer life that was organic.

The Best Prayer is a Humble Prayer

Although I am having trouble getting out my prayer materials at the same time everyday to find fruitful prayer in my routine, I have been seeking God in humble service (to my family) and trying to live a more organic prayer life.

My prayer life has not included things like regular Adoration and Scripture study like it usually does, but I have been taking time regularly throughout my day to thank God for my wife, my kids, the ability to work from home, and the people that have helped me in different facets of my life. It has left me with a more grateful, and simpler attitude.

My marriage has blossomed this Advent as Kate and I both practice gratitude, and I am learning to see God in everyday moments in a special way.

Encouragement

Wherever you are spiritually this Advent, whether your Advent hasn’t gone as planned, you didn’t plan anything special, or it is going better that you thought, I encourage you to stop and consider what God is calling you to in this next week.

Our individual call is just as unique as our set of circumstances. There is always a way to “roll with the punches” and discover our infinite God in new and exciting ways. God meets us where we are. Right in our glorious messes!

The Nativity story is the perfect example of finding God’s will and rolling with the punches. If you are finding that there is “no room at the Inn,” I challenge you to look around you and find your manger where you can slow down and sleep in heavenly peace.

Advent joy


Jonathan Hicks is a husband and father of 3 boys, ages 5, 3 and 6 months. He works as a grant writing consultant and has a passion for Catholic causes, particularly those that serve the poor. Originally from Scranton, PA, he currently resides in Grand Rapids, MI.

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Why the Holidays Don’t Have to be Perfect in 2019

💫💫💫Too often society places pressure for the perfect “holiday” season:

🔷all the gifts must be precisely wrapped and laden under the Christmas tree in a tidy order,

🔷the Christmas meal has to be cooked to the exact temperature and paired with the appropriate side dishes depending on the main dish,

🔷 family members need to behave–especially your “estranged/weird” uncle [or aunt or other unique relative you may have].

The Perfection Pitfall

⚜️Honestly, I fall into this fallacy almost every year myself.

⚜️This year was no different. Stomach flu, toddler tantrums, and lack of sleep dominated the weeks leading up to my Advent.

⚜️I struggled at times to see the purpose in the pain. Going to Sunday Mass helped reorient me back to the right path.

Reason for the Season

⚜️The season of Advent is not about preparing for the “perfect” Christmas where Mary and Joseph get a room at the inn.

⚜️Rather, Advent is about preparing for the birth of Jesus Christ. His birth took place in the messiness of the stable, his Passion and Death took place on the messiness of the Cross.

⚜️Not everything in my life will be neatly fit in my control. The same was true for the Holy Family.

Advent

Reflection Questions

❓Is you reaction to unplanned events similar to the humble reaction of Jesus, Mary, & Joseph?

❓How have you prepared your soul for Joy?

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