A great German philosopher wrote that God is so all powerful and so all good—that he gave an aspect of himself to be the crown of his creation: he gave free will to men.
Perhaps he wanted to see himself as though in a mirror. But as it turned out, only darkly. Thanks to the persuasiveness of a snake, the impulsiveness of a woman and the infatuation of a man, God did not get what he wanted but only a poor reflection of himself. So out went man from paradise, to the land of Nod, east of Eden.
So total was God’s gift of wilful freedom that it may have spilled over to the rest of creation. Scientists have found that freedom, bordering on anarchy, infects everything—from the world of men to the smallest particles of creation.
Nothing and no one obeys law. Everyone and everything is a constant disappointment. The same particle in one place is found in another place also. It is a free for all.
When God sought to save man, and apparently the rest of creation—for when he comes again on the last day, everyone and everything will be changed back to the way it was on the first day, man, earth, sun and planets, galaxies racing away from the instant of creation—all will be perfect again.
But to bring that about, without taking back free will, a change for the better must come from within. So God became Man to undergo the gamut of human experience: the worst imaginable pain: crucifixion—water boarding wasn’t invented yet; and humiliation—nor was Abu Ghraib. God had to insert himself in the world—at the moment of the world’s worst imperfection, in a time of imperialism like today.
But he so respected the world and man whom he made to be free—to choose good or evil as they will it—he would not save them from above and in spite of themselves but as part of the world and as one of its men. That is the glory of the Incarnation; which echoes in eternity—when every Christmas he is born on this day, and every Good Friday, he dies on the cross; even as every Easter he rises again as he hopes we too will do with perfect freedom. Rising from a living death in a world of sin to eternal life in a world of grace. Both these seasons are a praise, a rebuke, and a vindication of God’s creation.
That is how real change is made, from within. That is how even God had to work to change man and his world for the better: not from above and outside but from below and inside men. Not hidden but in the open. So watch. You can see God moving—slowly, humbly but inexorably in the best of women and men against the very worst of them. Merry Christmas!
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