“To all who received him, who believe in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12). To believe in the name of Jesus Christ is to recognize him as the Christ, as the Son of God, as the Word who was before all time and who became man. To be ready at the sound of that name, and for the glory of that name alone, to do all things, to attempt all things, to suffer all things: this is what it means to believe in the name of Jesus Christ.
They are born not “of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). God has given us the freedom to choose to become his children and to cooperate in our generation by faith. This power nevertheless comes from God, who places in us the divine seed of his word, not one that strikes the ears, but one that finds a secret path into our hearts.
And what is the source of this great gift? “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). To make us children of God, it was necessary that his only Son become a man. It must be through this unique and essential Son that we receive the spirit of adoption. The Son has come to us, and we have seen his glory. He was the light, and it is by the brilliance and in the reflection of this light that we have been regenerated. He was the “true light that enlightens every man”; he enlightens the children that come into the world, giving them their reason, which, obscured as it is, is nevertheless a light and will develop with time.
Yet another light by which he still comes to enlighten the world is his Gospel, which he continually offers to the whole world, even to the little children who are enlightened by Baptism. And when he regenerates us and makes us children of God, what does he do but cause his light to be born in our hearts, a light by which we see him, full of grace and truth — full of grace from his miracles and truth from his words. “For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).
We are thus children of God because we are children of the light. Let us walk as children of the light. Let us not desire vain glory or the deceitful pomp of human grandeur. All of it is false; all of it is darkness. The world that wishes to lure us has no grace at all. Jesus Christ alone, full of grace and truth, knows how to fill our hearts, and he alone should attract us. Grace is poured out upon his lips and upon his speech (cf. Ps. 45:2; Luke 4:22). Everything in him is pleasing, even his Cross, where we see shining forth his obedience, his generosity, his grace, his redemption, his salvation. All the rest is less than nothing. Jesus Christ alone is full of grace and truth. It is for us that he is full, and “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16).
Art for this post on the Word made flesh: Detail of The Adoration of the Shepherds, Charles Le Brun, 1689, PD-US author’s term of life plus 100 years of less, Wikimedia Commons; Cover of of Meditations for Advent used with permission.