God entered concretely, in the flesh, in the midst of human lives and he continues to dwell in the midst of human lives, in the midst of our lives.
Pause and consider this Mystery anew in this holy Season. Remove it from the restrictive confines of its familiarity. Just pause a moment before the Nativity scene and ponder as did Mary, as did the shepherds and the wise men. And realize that if God entered our history in a given moment, it was a moment whose impact would never cease to be felt.
But what has come again and again to my consciousness this Advent and Christmas time is quite the opposite sentiment. I find myself marveling at how incredibly, unimaginably close God is! Perhaps he is so close that we often fail to even look for him there. Have you ever experienced times on a bright sunny day when you have searched for your sunglasses only to discover that they are already on your head? Have you ever searched for your keys only to find they are already in your pocket or in your purse?
Those experiences, I think, begin to give us a clue as to how close God has come to us and why we fail to find him. Yet, these examples only hint at the truth because God is much closer than this. Somehow our unconverted imagination seems to present God as far off in the heavens, far removed from our sight, or dwelling in the peoples of past ages and coming to us only in well-worn stories that take their place behind familiar fairy tales and children’s stories.
We often miss the impact of the great Mystery we celebrate at Christmas because it is as close to us as the nose on our face and so transforming for our daily lives that it goes beyond our wildest imaginings. What we celebrate is precisely a God who has chosen not to remain distant and unknowable; the Lord and creator of the universe who has chosen not to live in realms impenetrable beyond our sight. We celebrate a God who so humbled himself that he became “God-with-us” “Emmanuel,” taking flesh in the womb of our sister, the Virgin Mary.
Pause and consider this Mystery anew in this holy Season. Remove it from the restrictive confines of its familiarity. Just pause a moment before the Nativity scene and ponder as did Mary, as did the shepherds and the wise men. And realize that if God entered our history in a given moment, it was a moment whose impact would never cease to be felt. No moment in time can confine God. God entered human history and God lives in human history. God entered concretely, in the flesh, in the midst of human lives and he continues to dwell in the midst of human lives, in the midst of our lives.
How can I convey to you this awesome truth? The Incarnation means that God’s presence has been woven into life’s very fabric. Human life, human actions can never be understood in the same way anymore. Even the simplest human actions now take on a deeper meaning. Either they connect us, unite us, to the God who has entered our history or they separate us from him. Whatever we do, together or alone, we do now with Christ. We eat with him, we talk with him, we work with him, we play with him. He is present in our joys and our sorrows, in our waking and in our rest. He is present in our every moment, in our every undertaking.
Our lives have meaning and purpose because the Son of Man, as Jesus liked to call himself, has come this way before and is with us now. Just as Mary held him within her both by grace and in the flesh, so Christ is now able to be present within us in an awesome lifelong encounter. Like Mary, by virtue of our Baptism, we have become Christ-bearers and we also can see him in the face of one another, most especially in the poor and the suffering. So profound can this union become, if we would only say yes, that with Paul we could exclaim, “…[I]t is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2: 20)
Monsignor Mark J. Seitz is the pastor of St. Rita Catholic Church in the Diocese of Dallas, Texas.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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