St. Paul summarizes perfectly the beauty and mercy of Christmas!
Unfortunately, Advent is so often overshadowed by all the material preparations and gift-giving that we tend to miss the central spiritual themes of this beautiful season. One way to reignite our soul is to read the following passage from St. Paul’s letter to Timothy.
This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life. To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:15-17)
It’s easy to forget that the reason Jesus came at Christmas was to save us. Humanity was in need of a savior and Jesus came as a little child to extend his bountiful mercy upon our poor souls.
Sometimes our pride can get in the way of this reality and we don’t think we need someone to save us. However, St. Paul’s next line should resonate within our souls: “Of these I am the foremost.”
St. Paul had a keen understanding of his own sinfulness and need of redemption. He fully understood that he was a sinner, a great sinner, in need of a savior.
Do we see ourselves as sinners? Do we see our faults and failings?
Again, pride is our worst enemy in this regard as it’s easier to blame someone else or to think of ourselves as “righteous.” However, St. Paul, one of the holiest saints in the history of the world, counted himself the “foremost” sinner.
Where does that place us, then, if St. Paul is the worst of sinners?
As we prepare our hearts for Christmas, let us take advantage of the sacrament of confession and look inwardly at ourselves during Advent, recognizing our many failings, but most of all, accepting Jesus into our hearts as a merciful savior.