HE WAS the true light which enlightens everyone coming into the world …. And the Word was made flesh and lived among us’ John 1.5,14.
Life presents us with so many challenges it’s not surprising if at times we find ourselves dissatisfied – with our looks perhaps, our work, or some failure to live up to our ideal. But, though we might be dissatisfied, God seems to love us as we are and chooses us as the way of fulfilling God’s loving purpose.
When we look at the earth, what do we see? In his Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius sees ‘Diversity of dress and appearance, some white and some black, some in peace and others at war, some weeping and others laughing, some healthy, others sick, some being born and others dying.’ I also see good news and bad news today, mostly lots of bad news.
St Ignatius then has us imagine what the Three Divine Persons in heaven see when they look down on the earth. I can watch the news with a controlled and safeguarded heart but God does not have that liberty: God sees tragedy and seems to take it personally. So God sends a messenger, Gabriel, to Nazareth.
While the people of the earth are ruing their lot, the Trinity is responding from the heart, deciding to come to the rescue; and in Nazareth there is a conversation of redemption to be overheard.
Up in heaven God is ‘bringing about the sacred Incarnation’; and in Nazareth, Mary says ‘Yes’ and
sings her lovely song of praise.
If we are to know Jesus and love him, we have to start here, seeing the Incarnation as a response that is loving and vulnerable. God might have created from nothing, but here God works redemption amid the medium of human fragility and need.
The human plight moves God to an extra-ordinary reaction: ‘the Trinity decreed in their eternity that the Second Person would become human to save the human race.’
But if being human is the problem, how can becoming human be the solution? Committing to Incarnation is committing to an embodied life with all the associated risks that flesh is heir to. Flesh is vulnerable and dies.
Yet God enters into our existence to do something for us that presumably could not be done any other way. God takes on disappointment and loss, failure and death. And saves the world. In flesh like mine.
Jesus, the Word made flesh, is like a singer with a powerful voice and perfect pitch, who joins the choir, not to teach new songs, but to help them sing better. 21/12/13
Peter Knott SJ
Adapted from an idea in Thinking Faith 11/12/13