by Sr. Patricia McCarthy, CND

incarnationChristmas is disturbing. Christ is disturbing. One look at the advertising business in any of the social media or at the so-called Christmas movies being proffered at every site certainly doesn’t reflect this reality. They are mostly “feel good” movies with happy endings. Even religious services and cards rarely express the challenges of Christ’s Incarnation.

Of course it is Good News that Jesus Christ became human. It is beyond Good News; it is impossible, amazing, extraordinary, pure mystery, unearned redemption, undeserved gift, infinite hope, Godly graciousness, and all the other ways we try to speak the unspeakable wonder of the birth of Jesus. Yet it is also more than the immeasurable most. God has come to us. Divinity has entered humanity not as a stranger but as intimate friend, as one of us, closer to us than we are to ourselves.

If we absorb even the slightest impact of the incarnation in our lives, the questions explode: How? Why? What does it mean? Who is he, this Jesus? Who are we because of him? Who are we with him? Who are we to each other in him?

The mystery is Incarnation and the response is Incarnation.

A woman patiently cares for a husband with dementia, loving through forgetfulness, seeing dignity in empty eyes.

A young couple opens their home to a friend in need of a safe place.

A family always has the extra chair at the table for whoever stops by.

A religious sister walks through the prison gates year after year believing in the ones whom society has abandoned.

A father puts aside his own grief over his wife’s death for the sake of his two young children.

Strangers reach out day after day to shelter the homeless and feed the hungry.

A young family teaches their children to have a care for those who have nothing.

Parishes and Congregations of religious men and women pour out their time, talent and treasure into providing Catholic education for the poor.

A prisoner of 27 years frees his country from prejudice and models tender forgiveness and gentle strength.

The mystery is Incarnation and the response is Incarnation.

As long as one person moves toward the other in love and forgiveness the Incarnation is being lived. Each act of love leads to the next. To lift up a fallen child in love could lead one day to a lifetime of service for children in a third world country. To refuse to own a gun or use one could develop into recognizing that all violence is contrary to the way of the Incarnate Jesus.

Along the journey of goodness the reality of the totality of the call of Christ can be disturbing. This is indeed good news. It means we are getting into the mystery of Christ. It shows that it matters that Christ was born.

“It matters that our wounded nature can crawl into his human nature,
To be re-forged in the blaze of his divine abundance.
And that we live and touch and laugh and grow as sharers in the life of God.
God loved the world so much he gave it his very life that it might be ours to live.” *

* from Sr. Miriam Pollard, OCSO, “House of David”

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