The Beauty of Christ's Birth
Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead…. Christ who said, I am the Truth, was born of the Virgin. And justice looked down from heaven: because believing in this new-born child, man is justified not by himself but by God.1
These words by St. Augustine, whose voluminous writings on the Christian faith perhaps are second in influence only to the words of St. Paul, embrace the full wonder of Christmas. Within the Christ Child’s holy and humble birth, Augustine believes the very first glimpse of Jesus’ beauty is evident.
Today, few would argue with the lyrical assertion that Christmas is the most beautiful time of the year. Ablaze with shining lights and striking red, gold, and evergreen; filled with scents of pine and baking pies; awash in the words and sounds of familiar carols, Christmas is a feast for our senses.
Yet the true beauty of Christmas is not simply what we see, hear, taste, and smell, but rather the presence of the Son of God Incarnate. As John the Evangelist reflected on his personal experience with Jesus Christ, he wrote: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Because “glory” here refers to the visible radiance of the one and only Son of God, we might as well translate one of John’s key phrases like this: “we have seen his beauty.”
Christmas is beautiful for one simple reason: because Jesus is beautiful.
1 Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 185
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