The first Advent of God’s Messiah is either a monstrous myth or a transcendent mystery. It is either a preposterous fable, or it is an inexplicable truth we accept as true because the inexplicable God says it’s true.
There are no other options. No other possibilities. No other explanations.
Here is some of what we know: An angel appeared out of nowhere to a young Jewish maiden to tell her she would conceive a son – not through human agency, but by the Holy Spirit.
We know Almighty God emptied Himself of His glory and took the form of a baby who grew to become a man who declared moral and social truths, who worked miracles, was murdered, and then returned to life three days later.
We know the angel who appeared to Mary also appeared to the priest Zechariah to tell him his wife Elizabeth would become pregnant, though she was far past her menopause.
We know other angels appeared among simple shepherds to announce Jesus’ birth, and Magi from the East followed a star to the child Jesus in Judea.
Of course, we know much more, but these few demonstrate the supernatural pattern surrounding the first advent.
As early as the third chapter in Genesis, God promised a savior to our world lost in sin’s darkness, a savior who, in the words of St. Paul, would give “Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4). A savior of whom, as St. Peter declared: “All the prophets bear witness that . . . . everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43).
But as the prophet Isaiah asked 700 years before the first advent, “Who has believed our report?” (Isaiah 53:1), God not only asks you and me that question, but he also requires of us an answer.
Who believes it?
That’s the linchpin, the key, the crux of the entire matter of life and death – and where we will spend our eternity. St. Thomas Aquinas reasoned it this way: “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
The first advent is either a monstrous myth – some today even call it a dangerous myth – or it holds for us life-changing truth.
It all depends on what we believe . . . .
And what we will do with that belief.