Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who assumed human nature when he was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
It celebrates too the reason why He explained that He came – ‘that they may have life to the full’.
He was speaking of His own divine life as the Son of God. The Second Letter of Peter reminds us that, to fulfil this purpose, He shares with us His divine nature.
Sharing in God’s nature, we have become adopted sons and daughters of God and brothers and sisters of Christ. We are ‘new creations’. All who, through Baptism, are human by nature and divine by adoption, are members of God’s family, the Church.
In practice, it is the divine life within us which empowers us spiritually to live the challenging teachings of Jesus, the Son of God.
No one could live, for example, His command to ‘love one another as I have loved you’.
For who could love as the Son of God without sharing His divine nature?
Jesus taught that we need to nourish the divine life within with the Eucharist.
Prayer, the Word of God and the other sacraments are essential too.
All too many today do not see the need for these essentials to live as Christians and suffer spiritual malnutrition.
Instead of striving to live Jesus’ more difficult teachings, they can be tempted to rationalise ‘but I am only human’.
They do not appreciate why He taught that He came nor the heart of His teachings.
The power of the divine life growing within us moves us gradually to think, feel emotionally, see others and behave more like Christ.
To grow more in Christ-like love, compassion, mercy and justice. It moves Christ-like commitment to play our parts in His mission in daily life in our family and other life settings.
We draw on the divine power within every time we pray for help to love someone we may not like; to forgive someone who has hurt us deeply; to be just when this may disadvantage us; to replace judgementalness with compassion.
We do so when we pray for strength to resist temptations.
As we strive to become more like Christ, we grow in Christmas peace, the inner peace God alone can give.
The power of divine life grows generally, its effects depending upon factors such as faith and the quality of our prayer.
Christmas reminds us of who we are as baptised Christians – human beings who share the nature and life of God through Christ.
May each of us continue to nurture the divine life within so that, as we are changed gently and gradually, we grow in Christmas peace.
Bishop Gerard Holohan
Bishop of Bunbury