Pope_Benedictus_XVIChristmas and Easter are both feasts of redemption.

Easter celebrates it as a victory over sin and death; it marks the final moment when the glory of the Man-God shines out like the light of day.

Christmas celebrates it as God’s entry into history, his becoming man in order to restore mankind to God.

[…] The Church Fathers always interpreted Christ’s Birth in the light of the whole redemptive work which culminates in the Paschal Mystery.

The Incarnation of the Son of God not only appears as the beginning and condition for salvation, but as the very presence of the Mystery of our salvation: God is made man, he is born an infant, like us, he takes our flesh to conquer death and sin.

Two important texts of St Basil illustrate this clearly.

St Basil said to the faithful: “God takes flesh precisely in order to destroy death that is concealed in it.

“Just as antidotes to poison neutralize its effects as soon as they are ingested and as the shadows in a house are dispelled by sunlight, so death that held sway over human nature was destroyed by God’s presence.

“But just as ice in water remains solid as long as night lasts and darkness prevails, it quickly melts in the heat of the sun, so death, that reigned until Christ’s coming, as soon as God the Saviour’s grace appeared and the sun of justice arouse, unable to coexist with life, ‘is swallowed up in victory’ (1 Cor 15:54)” (Homily on the Birth of Christ).

In another text St Basil again formulates this invitation: “Let us celebrate the salvation of the world, the birth of the human race. Today, Adam’s sin has been pardoned.

“Now we can no longer say ‘you are dust, and to dust you shall return’ (Gen 3:19), but, united to him who came from heaven, you will be admitted to heaven” (Homily on the Birth of Christ).

In Christmas we find the tenderness and love of God who stoops to our limitations, to our weaknesses, to our sins, and who bends down even to us.

St Paul declares that Jesus Christ, “who, though he was in the form of God… emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:6-7).

[…] God humbled himself to the point of being laid in a manger, already a prelude to the humbling of himself in the hour of his passion.

The culmination of the love story between God and man passes through the manger in Bethlehem and the tomb in Jerusalem.

Benedict XVI (b. 1927): Holy Christmas (General Audience, 21st December 2011).