Fontanini nativity scene

And the Word Became Flesh …

Reproduction of the Book of Kells depiction of St. John as an eagle
St. John from the Book of Kells

In the beginning was the Word,
 and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
 He was with God in the beginning.
 Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made that has been made.
 In him was life,
 and that life was the light of all [hu]mankind.
 The light shines in the darkness,
 and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory,
 the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth.

The Gospel According to St. John, verses 1-5, 14

It’s December 24 and the Sun has set, meaning it’s officially Christmas. We celebrate the birth of Jesus recorded in the Gospel according to St. Luke. (St. Matthew’s story comes in a couple of weeks.) We put up Nativity scenes, attend church services, sing hymns and carols about the baby Jesus, put on cute little children’s pageants, and then … we leave it there. It’s a sweet story that makes us feel good, but not as important as other parts of Jesus’ story. But, as the commercials tell us, “There’s more!” If we stop and really ponder it, the Incarnation has some staggering implications.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We hear these words from the Gospel of John often, but do we ever stop to think about them? Really think about them? That the Word, the root of being, through whom all things were made, the infinite God of the universe, outside of space and time, entered into a finite space and became a human being is mind-blowing. A 15th Century carol, There Is No Rose of Such Virtue, describes Mary as a rose that contained heaven and earth in little space. When God entered into Mary’s womb, he became his creation, reuniting heaven and earth and restoring the balance that was lost when humans decided to turn away from God. That bears repeating:

The INFINITE became contained in a small space. God, the WORD, the Source of all that is, the very root of our being, BECAME HIS CREATION.

The Incarnation lowers mountains and raises valleys. It casts down the mighty and lifts up the lowly. It balances the scales and restores the world to health. We are called to live incarnationally, to manifest Christ in our lives so that others may see him in us and we may see Christ in each other and, indeed, in all creation, for, in becoming human, God reunites all creation to himself.

As I said, this is a mind-blowing concept and we will likely grapple with it for our entire lives. As with everything else, we will do well not to get overwhelmed by the enormity of it all, but rather to see how Christ is incarnate in our lives and in the lives of those around us in the here and now. A prayer very dear to the hearts of Celtic Christians is the one commonly called St. Patrick’s Breastplate. Many of us incorporate parts of it into our daily prayers, especially this part:

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

In these few lines, we both seek and acknowledge Christ’s presence all around us.

How do you see God as incarnate in your day-to-day living? Do you see God all around you as a living and breathing part of creation? Do you have a sense of God as the very source of your being?

These are questions worth exploring.

I wish you all a very merry and blessed Christmas!

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