God is inexhaustible creativity, but He does not improvise. Everything that He carries out in time is the actualization of a well thought-out plan that has its roots in God’s eternal love.
This important principle is applied and verified in the overall plan of our salvation which has its “center” in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became a human being at the appointed time in the divine plan.
This event of exceptional importance for the whole of mankind (and for God Himself!) took place at the time of Emperor Augustus, some 2,000 years ago. The unfolding of this plan, however, started with the call of Abraham, about 18 centuries before Jesus Christ’s birth.
To the pagan, childless Abraham, God revealed Himself, and promised him a prosperous homeland and a descent in whom all peoples of the earth would find a blessing. From that moment onward, as he left his native land, Abraham’s life was characterized by a seemingly endless quest for the Land of the Promise and a heart-rending waiting for the gift of a son who would carry the torch of God’s promise to the generations to come.
Abraham’s faith in God’s promise was rewarded with the birth of Isaac and, from him, of Jacob and Esau. Today’s Gospel leads us in a “trip in time” over an arch of about 18 centuries, which starts with Abraham and ends with Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary and the legal son of Joseph, a distant descendant of David and Abraham.
In the family line of Jesus, there is a series of three sets of 14 generations each, whose representatives include both great heroes and great sinners, especially among the descendants of David in the period of the monarchy. The prevarications and moral aberrations of certain kings, such as Ahaz and Manasseh, would have been more than enough reason for God to withdraw the promise made to Abraham and reiterated to David. But God did not give up on Israel. He remained faithful to the promise of a descendant of Abraham who would “bring a blessing” to all nations, both Jews and non-Jews alike, which is salvation to the whole of mankind.
This means that God’s faithfulness was not thwarted by man’s unfaithfulness. That is why, “in the fullness of time” (i.e., at the designated time in God’s plan), the promised Messiah was conceived and born and given the prophetic name JESUS – Savior.
We have a lot to learn from God’s persevering love and unshakable faithfulness to His great promise. We have to learn to be grateful for the absolutely undeserved gift of the Messiah / Christ. We have to learn to derive inspiration from God’s faithfulness and to make it our guiding paradigm in this world characterized by so many forms of unfaithfulness and betrayal.
In a special manner, we have to learn to be faithful to God by honoring our commitments to Him. A faithful God deserves a faithful service. Let this Christmas Novena re-awaken in us the awareness of such a duty and instill in us the grace we need to fulfill it.
JESS P. BALON