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Brookline Carmel Bulletin                        

December 18, 1960

Cogitatio Sancta

(Holy Meditation)


A Christmas Lesson         



And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us.  (John 1: 14)


One of the remarkable things about the Gospels is their lack of exuberance.  Their name stands for ‘good news’, yet everything in them is related in disinterested fashion, almost as if the authors were uninterested, merely reporting staid facts.  The line quoted above is a good example.  It is the most startling truth in the entire ensemble of Christian Revelation, yet St. John introduces it as he might any after-thought:  And the Word was made flesh…”


The fact of the Incarnation is the heart of the Catholic Faith.  Almost all the other truths are related to it as spokes of a wheel to a hub, fanning out, radiating from it.  One in particular I would like to single out for your consideration this week:  the inestimable value of human life.


The Incarnation has impressed upon us the sublime worth of human nature in a manner and with a certainty that can never be matched.  Because it is not beneath His dignity to have taken a human nature to Himself and become man, we know God has created it inherently, natively good.  For whatever is intimately united with the supremely good, transcendently good God must itself be exceedingly precious and deserving of love and esteem.  From the opposite point of view, unless human life was surpassingly worthwhile, God would never have been able to become incarnate.


Whence derives the innate goodness of human nature?  From intellect and free will.  In virtue of these faculties man is the natural image and likeness of God.  In God, too, there is intellect and will, since He knows Himself, Who is truth, perfectly, and He loves Himself, Who is goodness itself, adequately.  Indeed, the operations of intellect and will are involved in the intimate Trinitarian Life of God.  As St. Thomas has it, the Father eternally begets the Son by way of intellectual generation (for the Son is the Word of God).  By a mutual act of selfless love (the proper act of the will), the Father and Son jointly breathe forth the Holy Spirit, the third Self or Person, in the Trinity.  So wherever intellect and will are found, there we have something that is of outstanding value, something to be cherished, for there we have the natural image and likeness of God.  But wherever we find a man we find intellect and will.  Every man, therefore, is intrinsically worthy of love, lovable.


Notice, accidental features were not considered in establishing the dignity of human life.  It is a serious error, therefore, to judge the worth of a man according to appearances.  Appearances may be delightful and pleasant to the senses, or they may be utterly loathsome.  But all the appearances in the world do not change the innate value of human life.  I may be deprived of several members, or otherwise physically deformed; I may have leprosy, or be covered with hideous and foul ulcers; I may have skin of any one of various colors; I may be incredibly backward and crude or I am, perhaps, a vicious criminal.  Despite all this, I am still a human being.  I am still objectively worthy of love and esteem; I am still precious in the eyes of God.


We may look upon a soul, as did St. Teresa of Jesus, as a very costly diamond.  When clean and polished and placed in the full glare of the sun, it gives off gleams and flashes of beautiful color, thereby manifesting the various constituents of white light.  When a human soul stands in the full light of God’s truth (a virtuous soul), it makes known to the world some of the beautiful virtues and excellencies hidden in God under the all-embracing aspect of subsistent goodness.


When the diamond is hidden in filth, or enveloped in thick darkness, none of its splendor is discernible.  Still, it remains a diamond; it is still very costly; it has not lost any of its native properties.  A similar state of affairs obtains for a soul covered with the filth of serious sin, a soul that keeps to the dark; it is still precious.  God shows His love and esteem for it by not doing it violence.  He does not force it to return to Him.  He leaves it sovereignly free.  He merely attracts it by continuing to lavish on it greater proofs of love.


We all are aware of the obvious conclusion:  we ought to do in like manner.  We are never so at variance with Jesus’ example as when we do not love our neighbor.  We are inconsistent if we claim to be Christians and do not share our good things with the less fortunate.  Jesus made Himself one of us; we ought to identify ourselves with suffering humanity everywhere.  No one should be excluded from the embrace of our good will.  Jesus descended an infinite distance to become one of us.  We have only to more out slightly, horizontally.  We too are sinners.



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