Summary: In the world we struggle with darkness, but we have the power of God's love, expressed in the Incarnate Word, on our side, and the victory is already won.
Monday in the Octave of Christmas 2012
Gaudium et Spes
“The Word became flesh, and pitched his tent among us.” This literal translation of the words of John’s hymn to the Logos, the Word of God, sums up the Good News we celebrated this year as we celebrate it in every year. As we close out the year 2012, with its triumphs and disappointments in the secular realm, we also conclude our tour of Gaudium et Spes, the Council’s Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Today’s Scriptures speak to all these realities.
The Fathers taught that a monumental struggle against the powers of darkness pervades the whole history of man. The battle was joined from the very origins of the world and will continue until the last day, as the Lord has attested.(8) Caught in this conflict, man is obliged to wrestle constantly if he is to cling to what is good, nor can he achieve his own integrity without great efforts and the help of God's grace.
That is why Christ's Church, trusting in the design of the Creator, acknowledges that human progress can serve man's true happiness, yet she cannot help echoing the Apostle's warning: "Be not conformed to this world" (Rom. 12:2). Here by the world is meant that spirit of vanity and malice which transforms into an instrument of sin those human energies intended for the service of God and man.
It would be appropriate here to insert a few examples: our science, which has studied human reproduction, has given us for the moral service of man natural birth regulation, which allows moms and dads to space their children, and helps those who are having trouble conceiving to do so naturally and according to God’s plan. But it has also given us instruments of sin like chemical contraceptives and abortifacients, and unnatural means of reproduction that has corrupted our citizens with self-abuse and the freezing or murder of tiny babies who are declared “surplus.”
The Fathers continue: Hence if anyone wants to know how this unhappy situation can be overcome, Christians will tell him that all human activity, constantly imperiled by man's pride and deranged self-love, must be purified and perfected by the power of Christ's cross and resurrection. For redeemed by Christ and made a new creature in the Holy Spirit, man is able to love the things themselves created by God, and ought to do so. He can receive them from God and respect and reverence them as flowing constantly from the hand of God. Grateful to his Benefactor for these creatures, using and enjoying them in detachment and liberty of spirit, man is led forward into a true possession of them, as having nothing, yet possessing all things.(9) "All are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's" (1 Cor. 3:22-23).
The words of today’s Gospel then ring out in the Fathers declaration: For God's Word, through Whom all things were made, was Himself made flesh and dwelt on the earth of men.(10) Thus He entered the world's history as a perfect man, taking that history up into Himself and summarizing it.(11) He Himself revealed to us that "God is love" (1 John 4:8) and at the same time taught us that the new command of love was the basic law of human perfection and hence of the worlds transformation.
To those, therefore, who believe in divine love, He gives assurance that the way of love lies open to men and that the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one. He cautions them at the same time that this charity is not something to be reserved for important matters, but must be pursued chiefly in the ordinary circumstances of life.
So God has loved us, and gives our modern world both challenge and grace. The challenge is to see, through out witness, that in so many ways our culture is on the path of destruction. The implosion of Social Security because of contraception and abortion is just one sign that our nation is afflicted with structures of sin. The grace is the gift of conversion and repentance. We are called to attract our fellow Americans to Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church. Here right worship is always found. Here right teaching is always found–we have never taught that evil is good and good is evil. Let’s always be alert to the opportunity to tell the truth, in charity, to those we meet. We may be instrumental in saving their souls, by the grace of Jesus Christ.