What does the Incarnation bring us? St Joseph with the Child JesusLove, God’s love: At the center of Christmas is the mystery of God’s Love. Are we aware of the immensity of this gift? Are we aware of the implications this Love brings to and for our lives, and for our world? This Love brings intimacy in our relation with God and with one another. It is a love that transforms the power of darkness into life and has the power to continue to do so. This Love that is at the center of Christmas will not only gift us in profound ways, but it will also ask something of us. It is a Love that stretches us in the shape of a cross because it asks that we first (daily) carry our own cross into life and healing. It is a Love that calls us and enables us to shoulder the burdens of one another….And it asks of us, which I know often feels impossible, that we love our enemy….that we stretch to love the one who is different….even more to love the one who has hurt us…How we concretely do this or how we move in this direction is not for now. What is for now is that we are given the gift, the loving power to do this in small and larger ways. This Love given ‘to and for us’ is truly a miracle for what it can work in human lives!
Now, hodie, we are given the possibility because of Christ…because of God’s gift to us in Christ…we are given the power of an unrequited Love….it is holding us right now…it is sustaining us right now….and it is to become even more flesh of our flesh. Fr. Alfred Delp writes: “What this celebration is about is the founding of a final order for the world, a new center of meaning for all existence. We are not celebrating some children’s holiday, but rather the fact that God has spoken His ultimate Word to the world. Christ is the ultimate Word of God to the world. One must let this idea really sink in these days when people are seeking new values” (Give Us This Day, p.277). This Divine birth is about a ‘new center of meaning’ out of which we are to live our lives. It births forth the ‘new values’ that help us live more like Christ in our views and perspectives, and in our relations with one another. It enables us to embrace paradox so that the ‘new values’ or new wine of the gospel take root and become embodied in our lives and in this community.
The Incarnation happened two thousand years ago…and it is still happening today. Fr. Delp emphasizes that we need to let the reality of the Incarnation sink in, sink into our heart, sink into our consciousness. I think he is right on…we, most of the time, are not even aware that it is at the center of our lives especially when we get pulled into ‘I-It’ stuff forgetting why we are even in a monastery or why God has placed each of us on this precious earth. Letting the reality of the Incarnation sink into our lives: this gift of God’s very life given freely to us: this gift, ever-new, ever hopeful, ever bringing wisdom, ever bringing the new of God that can heal all division and conflicts within our selves, with one another and in the larger world dynamics that affect all of us daily. The Incarnation of Christ is radical in the breadth and depth of its power to transform and to save…in its capacity for freedom and joy, for bringing meaning and hope, for showing a way forward when one can not find their way. A light is shining in our darkness and the darkness cannot quench it…and this light is to be even more manifest because like Mary we are ready to receive it, receive it with our ‘yes’, receive it by giving our flesh and blood to incarnate God’s gift and not quench it, bury it, or put it under a bushel basket!
We just received Jim Loney’s Christmas card. He writes so simply, so profoundly the following:Good news joy born in deep night waiting here, this manger will do.
Dear sisters: the manger of our lives will do….because we are each here….here like Mary with our ‘yes’….there is nothing more we need to do…just to be here, here with a living faith and the right intention. Yes, with these we will receive the gift that awaits each one of us this Christmas. Amen.