The Most Extraordinary Compliment

In the letter to the Philippians, St. Paul writes of Jesus that :though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.:

In this, the theologian Michael Himes finds the most remarkable statement about the Incarnation: that Christ chose “to be one with us rather than remaining in the form of God, calling it “the most extraordinary compliment ever paid to being human.”  Here is Himes restatement of the incredible claim made in the Letter to the Philippians:

The great mystery hidden from all generations and revealed in the Incarnation is God’s secret ambition.  From all eternity God has wanted to be exactly like you and me.  This is the ultimate statement of the goodness of being human, the rightness of humanity.  The immense dignity of the human person is at the heart of the Christian tradition because it flows directly from the doctrine of the Incarnation itself.  Indeed, the Incarnation is the highest compliment ever paid to being human.  It is also the divine response to our original sin.  If the originating sin, the origin of evil, is the rejection of the goodness of being a human being, the Incarnation is the unsurpassable revelation of that goodness.

 As we get ready to celebrate Christmas Day tomorrow, reflect on the enormity of the Incarnation and what it says about our dignity as human person.  How does this understanding affect your life?


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