Do you like fancy words? They can be fun sometimes just because they sound cool . . . anaphora, oxymoron, protean (look ’em up!).
Here’s your word for the Christmas Season – – – Incarnation. It means “to become flesh”. It’s what happened when your dad winked at your mom and she smiled back. Their love became incarnate . . . in you!
And that’s what happened when Mary said “Yes” to the Holy Spirit. God became incarnate in the child Jesus. The whole Christmas Season echo’s this one astounding fact – God the Invisible One has become a human being . . . and that means “in the flesh”.
Below is a little story we’ve printed before. I like how it captures both the astounding presence of God and the simple cooing of a baby.
The Infant God
Every once in awhile you come across a story that captures a profound mystery and puts it in words that help us see it more clearly. This little gem was written by a Frenchman held captive during the last world war. He was an atheist but also a writer. Asked by his fellow P.O.W.’s to write a Christmas play he includes, as part of it, this beautiful description of the young Mary holding her baby. It touches the mystery of the Incarnation. (The speaker is a portrait painter who is now blind. He is asked by a fellow POW how he would imagine the faces the mother and child.)
“The Virgin is pale and she looks at the child. What one should paint on her face is an anxious amazement that has only appeared once on a human face. For the Christ is her child, the flesh of her flesh and the fruit of her womb. She carried him nine months and will give him the breast, and her milk will become the blood of God. Momentarily, the temptation is so strong that she forgets that he is God. She squeezes him in her arms and says, ‘My little one.’
But at other times, she remains bewildered and she thinks: God is there, and she is taken with religious dread for this silent God, this terrifying child. For all mothers are also halted at some time before the rebellious member of their flesh, which is their child and they feel like exiles before this new life which they have made with their lives and in whom foreign thoughts dwell. But no child has been more cruelly and rapidly torn away from his mother, for He is God, and He exceeds all the limits she can imagine.
But I think there were also other moments, rapid and fleeting, where she perceives by faith that the Christ is her Son, her little one, and that He is God. She looks at him and she thinks: ‘This God is my child. This divine flesh is my flesh. He is made from me. He has my eyes and this shape of his mouth is the shape of mine. He looks like me. He is God and He looks like me.’
And no woman has had in this way, her God for herself alone, a God so small that one could take him in her arms and cover him with kisses, a God all warm who smiles and breathes, a God that one can touch and who laughs.
It is in one of those moments that I would paint Mary if I were a Painter.”
God bless and keep you in this new year.
“We constantly need to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends upon it.”
(Pope Francis, MV.2)