Twice throughout the Liturgical year, we pause in a moment of silence, while reciting the Creed. These are the commemorations of the two occasions when God personally intervened in human history in an exceptional way: the birth of Christ and the death—and resurrection—of Christ. In today’s Gospel we explore the mystery of the Word becoming flesh, that God himself, all-powerful and almighty, has chosen to become one of us.
One of the fathers of the church says that, “God redeemed everything that he assumed.” So, because God became man in every sense of the word then everything has been redeemed: our will, our emotions, our body, our reason… our sexuality! Everything that he assumed has been redeemed. In Christ’s divinity, we have to remember also the extent of the humanness that God took on. It seems so easy to get all too used to the mystery of the incarnation. For God not only became man but he become the most defenseless and vulnerable of all men; he became a baby.
This God-man spent a significant amount of time doing things like suffering from colic and cradle cap, screaming in the night for no discernible reason and weeing incontinently over his sleep-deprived (human) parents. Tears, tantrums and teething are thus the works of the one true God, just as surely as are ‘the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them (Acts 4:24) (Bullivant).
One of the mysteries of the Father is that he respects our human freedom and that, in doing so, he hides from us. He hides perhaps because if he revealed himself as he truly is we would be too struck by fear to respond, or because would irreparably cling to him, to such an extent that we would lose our freedom. God respects our freedom and so he hides. God hides behind the beauty of a rose; God hides behind the sunset and the sunrise; He hides behind that unexpected scent that revives a lost memory. God hides behind the flavors of a delicious meal, an exquisite wine, or a great conversation between family and friends. God even hides behind our enemies; God hides behind the challenges of our daily life, the obstacles that stand in our way. God—his body and blood, his soul and divinity, his true presence—hides behind bread and wine. The All-Powerful hides behind a tiny newborn baby. And it is in hiding that he calls to us, waiting to be discovered, longing for a relationship in that moment.
Our challenge is to find the hidden God, to discern His presence in our everyday lives. We must become like the Magi that, in their humility, discerned the presence of God in a baby born in a lowly stable. This is the mystery of the incarnation: The Artist has willed to join his masterpiece; the Great Musician has wanted to become a note in his own symphony; the All-Creating, All-Powerful God has wanted to become a creature. He has wanted to be like us in all things but sin, and not just to save us, but to show us the way back to the Father.
So when we are conflicted in our lives, when we are struggling to discern the presence of the Father, we only need to open up the Holy Scripture to find the path that God made-man laid out for us through the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ shows us what it is to be human. He shows us how to live a life of compassion and mercy. He shows us how to set aside the things that pull us away from the Father: the anxieties and fears we can fall into. He shows us the path to the Father. He is the visible presence of God among us. He has come to show us a life full of beauty, a life radiating with the presence of God, a life that not even death can take away from us.
Many people, including those who say they don’t believe in God, somehow intuit Him. They intuit that there is a profound beauty to life, and they end up living according to the laws of God, whether they ‘believe’ in Him or not. “Tell me what your highest love is and I will tell you who you are. Pope Francis says
In perceiving life’s grandeur and beauty they intuit that the presence of God would make it all the more beautiful (LF35).
In life’s grandeur and beauty we instinctively find this ‘highest love’, the love of God. Isn’t it true that a life of faith makes life all the more beautiful? The sunrise, the sunset, the flavors of the meal, and my relationships, have all the more meaning because they have been given to us by our Father, that we may discover and enjoy His Holy presence in our lives. When we live a life of faith we no longer feel alone in our lives, and we find ourselves in constant communion with the Holy Presence that walks with us and watches over us. That is the beauty of the love of God, that he has loved us so much much that he wanted to become one of us, while respecting our freedom. He sent his only Son to save us and to show us the way back to the Him.
Mary can show us how to unveil the hidden presence of God in our lives. May she show us how to find the presence of God in our Lord Jesus Christ, in his Holy Eucharist, and in this holy season. May she show us how to receive God made man in our hearts, that we may experience the joy of living our life under the loving gaze of our Heavenly Father.
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