This second day of Christmas invites us to reflect on the two natures of Christ.
This is the very heart of the Christmas mystery. The baby born in Bethlehem is so super special because the baby is divine, sharing in the fullness of God. And yet, the baby is a baby, a fully human bundle of joy.
The language of the two natures, human and divine, in the one person of Jesus Christ wasn’t fully developed until the Council of Chalcedon in 451. There, when Pope Leo the Great’s famous Tomb of Leo concerning the two natures of Christ was read out, the council fathers responded by shouting, “This is the faith of the fathers … Peter has spoken thus through Leo …”
This technical, theological language addresses something truly existential. It is about the encounter that makes Christmas a source of joy and grace and true delight even after some two thousand years. In the birth of Jesus, a real encounter has taken place between humanity and divinity. God is truly and fully with us. Our humanity has really and fully become a dwelling place for the divine.
The wonderful Flannery O’Connor highlights this while speaking of an author’s work at writing fiction, who is “looking for one image that will connect or combine or embody two points; one is a point in the concrete, and the other is a point not visible to the naked eye, but believed in by him firmly, just as real to him, really, as the one that everybody sees” (Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, 42).
Jesus is, in God’s grand narrative, the one image that connects, combines and embodies the two points; the seen, fleshy humanity and the unseen, spiritual divinity.
From the point of Jesus’ birth until this moment, human beings are never alone, God is near. The two, human beings and God, have become one again in Jesus.