A Nativity scene from the central panel of the Middelburg Altarpiece by Rogier van der Weyden, a medieval Flemish painter
Greetings from Belgium! Some friends from the NAC and I are here for about ten days relaxing and traveling around the Low Countries. I've enjoyed the colder weather and the different feel (still European but not Italian) that this country provides. We're guests of the American College, a seminary in Leuven, and although most of their seminarians have themselves left for the holidays, the rector and staff here have been very hospitable in providing us with a proper Christmas.
I hope to detail my travels soon, but for now, I just wanted to pass along my best wishes to you on this great day. For us Christians, Christmas not only celebrates the miracle of the Incarnation, when God became man in the person of Christ, but also reminds us and prepares us for the next coming of Christ, when he will come in glory. Since God assumed our humanity, salvation dawns for us and we come to share in his divinity. St. Augustine puts it powerfully as he writes:
If God has not been born in time, you would have suffered eternal death. If he had not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh, you would never have been freed from it. But for his mercy, you would have experienced everlasting misery; had he not shared your death, you would never have returned to life. Unless he had hastened to your aid, you would have been lost; if he had not come, you would have perished.
Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption, honoring the festive day when he who is the great and everlasting day came from the endless day of eternity into our own brief day of time. He has become our justice, our holiness, and our redemption. And so, as scripture says, let those who boast make their boast in the Lord.
Merry Christmas, friends! Or, as they say here in Flemish, Zalig Kerstfeest!