The 4 Reasons Christ Was Born

christ-reasons-for-birthWhy was Christ born? To die for our sins, right?

That’s true, but I think it’s an incomplete view of Christ’s life and mission.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraphs 456-460, gives us four reasons why the Word become Flesh.

 

While you might have guessed the first three, the last one might surprise you…even seem a bit blasphemous!

But that one gives you the ultimate reason Christ came to earth and the true goal of the Christian life.

1. To save us by reconciling us with God

Mankind was separated from God by the defiance of Adam and Eve.

A representative of the human race had to make up for it. But no “sorry” that a man could say would be big enough to erase an offense against the infinite God. Only Jesus was in a position to pull this off.

Jesus was a man so he could represent mankind. And, he was God, so his sacrifice was enough to make amends and repair the damaged relationship.

Jesus Christ’s willing sacrifice was an expiation, meaning it made atonement, for the sins of mankind. Another way to think of atonement is AT-ONE-MENT.

Christ’s death reconciles God with man. It heals the relationship ruptured by sin, and it makes us “as one” with God.

2. So that we might know God’s love

People often ask, “Was Christ’s brutal suffering and death really necessary? Couldn’t God do it some other way?”

A standard answer is, “Yes, of course! God could do anything he wants. A pinprick would’ve been enough.” It may be true that one drop of blood was enough, but I think the Cross was really the only way.

God can do anything he wants but he can’t be who he’s not.

God is complete, self-giving, self-sacrificing love. The persons of the Trinity continually pour themselves out in love to each other, and the Cross is a Trinitarian event.

On the Cross, Christ does in time what he’s done for all eternity as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity–offer himself in love to the Father. Could our redemption have been accomplished any other way? I don’t think so because that’s not who God is.

What does Jesus show us by this death? That God loves all the way…complete, total, nothing held back. That we have a God who would sacrifice himself in love to save us; who would give his life for ours.

That’s a God you could give your life to, as well.

3. To be our model of holiness

Think about this, every person you’ve ever met is flawed.

Even the most perfect Saint…even Mother Teresa, is imperfect. They’ve all sinned, and are all subject to original sin and it’s effects (with the exception of the Blessed Virgin). But there is one who was completely perfect.

There’s an amazing quote from Vatican II that was one of Blessed John Paul II’s favorites,

“Christ…by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals mankind to himself and makes his supreme calling clear.”

Jesus Christ is the perfect man. He shows us who we’re supposed to be. And what is the supreme calling he makes clear? That we are made for self-giving love.

Created in the image of God, our calling is to make a gift of ourselves in love to God and to others. Christ showed us this on the Cross.

In order to be holy, we have to imitate this self-sacrificing model of holiness.

4. To make us partakers of the divine nature

The total amount of sin from every human person for all of time is next to nothing compared to the grace of the Cross.

But it doesn’t do anyone any good unless it gets to them. That grace has to affect you, change you, transform you. It’s not enough to be redeemed, you have to be divinized.

Man’s reconciliation with God was a necessary step. But the ultimate goal was for us to become partakers in the divine nature.

Sounds crazy, I know. Maybe even a bit blasphemous. But from the earliest years of the Church, that was the understanding. St. Irenaeus, writing around 180 A.D., said,

“For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.”

The grace of the Cross distributed through the Sacraments is meant to truly make you like God. And, not just a façade or a covering. Truly changed. From the inside out. Changed to think and act and judge like him.

Catechetical takeaway

Christ’s life on earth was the perfect model of how to act like God.

No more did you have to wonder what it meant to be like God. There he was, God in the flesh…eating, drinking, talking, praying.

Christ showed us holiness in everything he did. But we see it most perfectly on the Cross. There, Christ revealed the depth of God’s love and the calling of our lives.

And, through this self-emptying we are meant to become like God himself. Not merely acting differently, but being transformed into his likeness through grace.

Now there’s a way to keep Christmas all through the year.

Image credit: Jacinta Iluch Valero

This post originally appeared on Marc’s personal blog, Evangelizing Catechesis. A former Navy pilot, Marc Cardaronella gave up the fast life for a more rewarding career as a Director of Religious Education. He writes about catechesis, evangelization, and the intersection of the two.

  • David C.

    That was awesome, Marc, in the fullest sense of the word. So simple, and yet so very profound. Well said! Something to meditate on throughout the year, not just at Christmas time.

    • Marc Cardaronella

      Thanks David! So glad you liked it. I was hoping it was something that could last beyond the Christmas season.

  • Dixibehr

    There is a fifth reason that you didn’t mention, though it could be related to the fourth.

    The Eastern Fathers teach that the Incarnation was ALWAYS part of God’s plan. He loves His creation so much that He wishes to be identified with it as closely as possible. (This should not be taken in a pantheistic sense, btw.)

    • Marc Cardaronella

      That’s a really interesting notion. I hadn’t heard that perspective before. I’d always thought from the other direction, that mankind was always destined to be inserted into the Trinitarian nature. But that’s another level of profound that God would also always want to be inserted into his creation in a more personal way than just it’s creator. I could ponder on that for a while. Thanks for sharing.

  • dianne

    Another reason Jesus came was to join us in our suffering. He could have died in a less painful way. Suffering is an overwhelming fact of human life that makes us ask “Why?” There is no answer that our little, finite minds can comprehend. But Jesus consoles us by participating in our pain. “I feel your pain” is often said in a trite, almost meaningless way. But Jesus really does feel our pain.

    • Marc Cardaronella

      That’s so true isn’t it? Jesus deeply entered into our pain and experienced it to the very depths. And then, he transformed it into something meaningful and glorious. Although, most people wouldn’t think of suffering as glorious. I think if we could see with spiritual eyes, we’d see how amazing suffering offered in love to the Father through Jesus really is. I think the Saints see and know this reality in a special way, and that’s how they can have joy in their sufferings. Nice thoughts! Thanks for commenting!

  • Kelmomma

    Nice article. Though I must say to “become God” can be a dangerous thought. To “become LIKE God” is something I think is easier to digest. I only say this because my cousin is involved in an organization called S.H.E. They believe that we are all Gods because we were made in God’s image. It is distressing to say the least and her “religion” has taken God and Jesus totally out of their theological view. Appreciate the information. Blessings to you in 2013.

    • Marc Cardaronella

      This is a real concern I know. It’s a dangerous notion all around. I think the key to the correct viewpoint is to understand this doesn’t happen without God. We’re made for union with God and to be inserted into the Trinitarian nature by becoming like God. That’s our destiny. But, no without God…only through him and in him. I believe the temptation of organizations like the one your cousin is involved with come to this notion because that is our destiny. We’re made to be more than we are. We’re made to live in perfect union with God and share in his very nature. So, it’s an innate desire to want that. But without revelation, people seek that on their own. That’s a basic idea in New Age teaching as well. I pray your cousin finds the truth in Jesus and that he can satisfy her longings for more.

  • Stan Y

    Amen. But his mother was also free from the stain of original sin when the angel Gabriel. Hail full of the grace the Lord is with you,.

    • Mark

      I was going to say the same thing. Mary was without sin, as well.

      • Marc Cardaronella

        You guys are right. I’ll have to amend that. Mary was without sin but I’m sure she wasn’t perfect. She must have made mistakes or errors in judgment. Christ was God acting in human form. The pattern on which we’re all made. So it’s only in him that we can find this perfect model of holiness. Although, Mary participates in this to a lesser extent.