A Reasonable and Possible Joy

by Ralph Del Colle, Ph. D. Associate Professor of Theology at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

“Without the re-creation brought about by that birth, creation would not exist.” With this statement, Monsignor Giussani has reminded us again of the entire creation’s stake in the Incarnation. The latter is not extrinsic to our humanity, some add-on that nurtures our religiosity but diverts from our real humanness. One need only recall St Paul’s confession of faith from his hymn in the Epistle to the Colossians (1:15-20). Christ is the “Firstborn of all creation” and the “Firstborn of the dead,” the One in whom all things hold together and the One through whom all things are reconciled. Creation beckons for its own truth and groans for its own redemption. The Incarnation presupposes the Eternal Word’s ordering of creation and culminates in the Paschal Mystery of this same Word made flesh. Christmas and Easter are appropriately the two hinges of the Christian liturgical year. Monsignor Giussani’s Christmas greeting already identifies the “victory” that one usually associates with Easter with Christmas and the event of the Incarnation. This is not some premature acclamation on his part, as if the sufferings of our Lord are incidental to His incarnate mission. Rather, we are told that this “victory” and the “assurance of joy” that comes with it is proper because “Christmas reveals the incontrovertible dominion of Being” in which God has overcome the distance between Himself and man. Indeed, the Christmas proclamation involves nothing less. The assumption of our human nature by the eternal Son is the foundation by which the Redemption is won. And so declares the Church on the octave of Christmas in the antiphon of the morning canticle for the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God: “Man’s nature is made new as God becomes man.”